Photo of Elin Nyman

Elin Nyman

Associate Professor, Docent

I use mathematical modeling to get maximal information from data with the goal to get a new understanding of human disease. My research deals with questions related to obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Systems biology helps us to understand disease

My research focuses on type 2-diabetes and obesity. I study for example the mechanisms of insulin signaling and insulin resistance and the browning of white adipocytes using mathematical modeling. I am also interested in how to combine modeling with large-scale data to better understand the origin to diseases. 

Type 2 diabetes and insulin

The main focus of my research has been the insulin response in human adipocytes, and especially what goes wrong in this response in individuals with type 2 diabetes. My work has resulted in a series of papers unravelling mechanisms of insulin signaling and insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes using mathematical models. I have also analyzed the effect of a potentially anti-diabetic drug combining mechanistic knowledge from the drug effects in cellular studies with the drug effects in clinical studies. This project was a collaboration with the external financiers Wolfram MathCore, MedImmune and AstraZeneca.

The interaction of glucose and insulin

Regulation of glucose level in the blood is not properly working in diabetics. To better understand this regulation, controlled by insulin, there are several mathematical models. I have connected models we develop at the cellular level with such a glucose-insulin model to translate the changes between these levels. In another project, we have further developed the glucose-insulin model to also be able to explain the levels of fatty acids in the blood and how these affect the glucose uptake and release. 

Adiponectin and obesity

Adiponectin is an important hormone in obesity since plasma levels of adiponectin is inversely correlated with obesity and is a therefore a measure of metabolic health. In collaboration with Cecilia Brännmark and Charlotta Olofsson at University of Gothenburg, I model mechanisms of adiponectin secretion in adipocytes.

Large-scale data collection to better understand disease

I am also involved in projects with a goal to combine detailed, mechanistic models with dynamic and high throughput data to better understand the diseased state. Such data has been hard to achieve for signaling pathways, but recently a research group has been able to perform insulin response measurements in an adipocyte cell line using mass spectrometry. In combination with mechanistic modeling and a detailed knowledge on the insulin response, the data can be analyzed in a new way. The resulting in depth understanding of the insulin signaling network provides detailed knowledge of the dynamics of the different pathways and the effects of perturbations and would therefore help in the evaluation of new drug targets.

Research supervision

I am always willing to discuss possible projects with anyone that's interested in my research. Please contact me if you are interested in creating a research project within systems biology and need a supervisor, a project, or both. I host bachelor-, master-, and internship projects.