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Friday, May 17, 2013 - Math professor to present work at conference in China
By Kathleen Williams, student writer


Dr. Libin Rong, assistant professor of mathematics at Oakland University, will travel to Taiyuan, China this summer to share his research at a conference focusing on computational and mathematical population dynamics. 

The event marks the fourth joint meeting of the Conference on Mathematical Population Dynamics (CMPD) and the Conference on Deterministic and Stochastic Models for Biological Interactions (DeStoBio). Previous conferences have been held in Italy, Brazil and France. 

This will be Dr. Rong’s first appearance at the international conference, which will bring together experts in a variety of fields, including applied mathematics, biology, computer science, ecology, epidemiology and public health, to discuss their recent research. 

Dr. Rong’s research interests include mathematical biology, infectious disease modeling, virus dynamics, theoretical immunology and epidemiology. He is a member of the university’s Center for Biomedical Research and is the 2013 recipient of OU’s New Investigator Research Excellence Award. 

For Dr. Rong, whose current work is funded by grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, studying viral dynamics enables him to apply his background in mathematics with biomedical sciences. 

“We formulate models and analyze equations, but most importantly, we look at the prediction of the model and experimental data,” he said. “I find it quite interesting and exciting because those results provide insights into biology and medicine.”

He was invited by the conference’s organization committee to organize a section, entitled Viral Dynamics and Drug Treatment, and present a separate lecture. The lecture, entitled Modeling Influenza Virus Dynamics, will examine how the immune system controls the influenza virus infection. 

“Someone with a healthy immune system doesn’t need a drug to treat the flu because the viral replication is controlled naturally,” Dr. Rong explained. “Those with compromised immune systems, though, require a drug.” 

His lecture will focus on the efforts to find an effective way to control viral replication. He will present mathematical models that may provide more information for future research in influenza pathogenesis, treatment and vaccination. 

“The immune system is a very complicated system and we still don’t know how the replication is controlled,” he said. “We build mathematical models based on different possible mechanisms, and then test the predictions and compare them to experimental data. We’re looking for the model that provides the best fit.” 
 
Dr. Rong holds bachelors and masters degrees in mathematics from Fudan University in Shanghai. He earned a Ph.D. in applied mathematics from Purdue University. 

His research has earned several awards, including his most recent 2013 grant from the Center of Biomedical Research Excellence Fund. He also won the 2012 Leon Heller Postdoctoral Publication Prize in Theoretical Physics and received a National Science Foundation grant in 2011 to study HIV. 

Since joining Oakland University in 2010, Dr. Rong has published more than 13 peer-reviewed articles in prestigious publications, including Science Translational Medicine, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Journal of Infectious Diseases and PLoS Computational Biology.

He teaches courses in differential equations and math analysis for engineers and is developing a course in infectious disease modeling.

To learn more about Oakland’s Center for Biomedical Research, view their website at oakland.edu/cbr. For additional information about the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, view their website at oakland.edu/math

Oakland University is a vibrant academic community with nearly 20,000 students and more than 260 degree and certificate programs. To learn more about academics, achievements, and events at OU, visit the news site at oakland.edu/newsatou and follow the news team on Twitter at @OaklandU_News.  

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