John Tyson studies biological control systems from a rigorous mathematical perspective, building realistic models to gain deeper understanding of cell physiology. He is principally concerned with mechanisms controlling the cell division cycle in budding yeast, fission yeast, Xenopus embryos and egg extracts, Drosophilia embryos and mammalian cells.
Progression through the cell division cycle is controlled by scores of interacting proteins. Many molecular systems biologists are working to understand how these interacting proteins govern the events of the cell cycle. Dr. Tyson uses a novel approach: he converts the molecular interactions among genes and proteins into sets of differential equations that can be simulated with a computer and then checked against the observed behavior of dividing cells. Since his mathematically rendered computer model gives an accurate representation of dividing cells, it clarifies the molecular details of cell cycle control and makes predictions about how cells will respond to novel conditions; for example, how cancer cells might respond to novel drug therapies.