You've seen the BMES Board Spotlights; now get ready to be introduced to some of the Bioengineering faculty here at UCLA! Meet Dr. Aaron Meyer, a member of the Bioengineering department as well as the Bioinformatics IDP. Read on to learn more about him!
I was a UCLA undergraduate student (graduated 2009). Then went to MIT Biological Engineering for my graduate education.
Overview of Research?
We build computational models of how cells respond and communicate in our bodies. Some of this is in cancer, where we've been exploring how we can model and overcome cell-to-cell heterogeneity in tumors. We as a community usually build models of the "average" cell, which is completely inaccurate in cancer. Tumors are especially hard to treat because they are essentially complex communities of cells that can adapt and respond. Especially since coming to UCLA, though, most of our work has been looking at the immune system, which is similarly an adaptable collection of cells. We build models of, for example, how antibodies interact with our immune cells to coordinate immune responses. We've also had the opportunity to work with others at UCLA who are performing large-scale studies of people's immune responses to viral infection, bacterial infection, organ transplant, etc, and we help make sense of this incredibly complex data. It's been extremely rewarding because (1) there is just so much data available, and a real need to be able to find patterns and make sense of it; (2) we get to work with experts in so many different areas of science and medicine; and (3) what we find has such an immediate potential to help people.
What courses do you teach?
What are your hobbies?
First, cycling. I try to go at least once a week and get in ~20–50 miles. It's time to get out, decompress, and sometimes think about something without distractions. It's also a great way to explore, and LA is a wonderful place for it. Currently, I'm preparing for a ride across Iowa with a friend this summer. Second, science fiction in all and any forms.
If you could tell your undergraduate self anything, what would it be?
Read even more! Read more science, scientific articles, fiction, non-fiction. It's a source of ideas, and so much of what I do now is written communication.
If you had a theorem or special number named after you, what would be the first thing you do to celebrate this?
A big slice of cake. :-)