- Director of Biomathematics Program, FSU, Fall 2010-present
- Professor of Biomathematics, FSU, Fall 2009-present
- Graduate Faculty Member, Molecular Biophysics Program,
FSU, Fall 2001-present
- Graduate Faculty Member, Neuroscience Program,
FSU, Summer 2005-present
- NIH DK 080714: Four-year award for
"Microfluidic Devices for Determining Dynamics of Islets of Langerhans",
Mike Roper (PI), Richard Bertram, 2013-2017.
- NSF DMS 1220063: Three-year award for
"Mathematical Analysis of Electrical Oscillations in Anterior Pituitary Cells",
Richard Bertram (PI), Joel Tabak, Arturo Gonzalez-Iglesias, 2012-2015.
- NIH DK 043200: Five-year award for
"Regulation of Prolactin Secretion at the Lactotroph", Richard
Bertram, Arturo Gonzalez-Iglesias, Joel Tabak(PIs),
- Chair of the Modeling and Analysis of Biological Systems (MABS)
Study Section, NIH (beginning July 1, 2015).
- Associate Editor, Mathematical Biosciences (since 2013).
- Editorial Board member, Biophysical Journal (since 2010).
Assignments & Tests
Current Research Interests
Activity of Pancreatic Beta-Cells
Pancreatic Beta-cells are located in islets of Langerhans in the pancreas and
are the only cells in the body that
secrete insulin, a hormone that is necessary for the uptake of glucose
by other cells. Defects in beta-cell functioning lead to diabetes, which
can result in death if not treated. The release of insulin is controlled
by many physiological variables, including the cell's electrical activity,
calcium, and nucleotide concentrations. I work in the development and
analysis of mathematical models of beta-cell activity as well as potential methods
for islet syncrhonization.
Hypothalamic Control of Hormone Secretion
The hypothalamus is the region of the brain that regulates the level and
timing of hormone release from endocrine glands. One such gland, the pituitary,
is located near the hypothalamus, and secretions from this gland regulate
secretions from other glands. For this reason, the pituitary is sometimes called
the "master gland". The hypothalamus sends both stimulatory and inhibitory
input to the pituitary, resulting in neural regulation of secretion from
gonadotrophs, somatotrophs, corticotrophs, melanotrophs, and lactotrophs.
I develop mathematical models of pituitary cells, and my lab performs experiments
to try to understand how the cells work and are regulated by the hypothalamus.
Bursting Oscillations in Excitable Cells
In nerve cells, information is transmitted through electrical impulses.
Electrical impulses also cause muscles to contract and endocrine cells
to secrete hormones. Quite often, impulses are generated as high-frequency
bursts, followed by periods of quiescence. This is particularly true in
endocrine cells such as pancreatic beta-cells and pituitary cells. I am
interested both in the dynamics of bursting (a mathematical topic) and in
the mechanisms by which different cells generate periodic bursts of
impulses (a biological topic).
Synaptic Transmitter Release and Short-Term Plasticity
Information is processed and transmitted in nerve cells by electrical
impulses. These impulses are passed from one nerve cell to the next through
a process called synaptic transmission. In the presynaptic cell, an impulse
evokes the release of one or more chemical neurotransmitters. These
transmitters diffuse to the postsynaptic cell and bind to transmitter
receptors, resulting in a postsynaptic voltage change. I am working on
the development of mathematical models that describe certain aspects of
this process, incorporating much of the known biophysical data. The
goal is to better understand transmitter release and the mechanisms
behind the enhancement or depression of release, i.e., synaptic
Neural Network Controlling Bird Songs
Song birds have a dedicated region of the brain to produce songs.
We are studying the neural mechanisms through which the song is produced in the
male zebra finch, which is a good paradigm for the learning of sequential behavior
(like reciting the alphabet). It also has some parralels with the learning of human
speach production. We study neural electrical activity, and features of the song
that is produced. We are also developing computational models for the neural
activity and connectivity that can produce the sequential behavior that results
in the stereotyped song of the male zebra finch.
Hypothalamus and Pituitary
Neural Basis of Birdsong
Students and Collaborators
Hypothalamus and Pituitary
Workshops and Conferences
Dr. Richard Bertram
Department of Mathematics (or
Institute of Molecular Biophysics)
Florida State University
Tallahassee, Fl 32306
tel.: (850)-644-7195 (math office), (850)-644-7632 (IMB office)