Workshop: AI for Science: Progress and Promises

Towards Learned Simulators for Cell Migration

Koen Minartz · Yoeri Poels · Vlado Menkovski

Keywords: [ autoregressive models ] [ cellular dynamics ] [ neural simulators ] [ Generative Models ]


Simulators driven by deep learning are gaining popularity as a tool for efficiently emulating accurate but expensive numerical simulators. Successful applications of such neural simulators can be found in the domains of physics, chemistry, and structural biology, amongst others. Likewise, a neural simulator for cellular dynamics can augment lab experiments and traditional computational methods to enhance our understanding of a cell's interaction with its physical environment. In this work, we propose an autoregressive probabilistic model that can reproduce spatiotemporal dynamics of single cell migration, traditionally simulated with the Cellular Potts model. We observe that standard single-step training methods do not only lead to inconsistent rollout stability, but also fail to accurately capture the stochastic aspects of the dynamics, and we propose training strategies to mitigate these issues. Our evaluation on two proof-of-concept experimental scenarios shows that neural methods have the potential to faithfully simulate stochastic cellular dynamics at least an order of magnitude faster than a state-of-the-art implementation of the Cellular Potts model.

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