Paulien Hogeweg

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Paulien Hogeweg
Born 24 December 1943
Nationality Dutch
Fields theoretical biologist
Institutions Utrecht University
Known for coined the term Bioinformatics in 1970

Paulien Hogeweg (b. 1943) is a Dutch theoretical biologist and complex systems researcher studying biological systems as dynamic information processing systems at many interconnected levels.

In 1970, Ben Hesper and she defined the term bioinformatics[2][3] as "the study of informatic processes in biotic systems".

Early life and education[edit]

Hogeweg graduated with a bachelor's degree from the University of Amsterdam in 1969. She later received a Ph.D. at Utrecht University in 1976; the title of her thesis is "Topics in Biological Pattern Analysis" and addresses pattern formation and pattern recognition in biology.[citation needed]

In her early career, Hogeweg intensively collaborated with Ben Hesper.


In 1977, Hogeweg founded the Theoretical Biology and Bioinformatics research group at Utrecht University and has been its group leader until 2009.


Starting with asynchronous extensions of L-systems she pioneered agent-based modeling studying development of social structure in animal societies, using the opportunity based "ToDo" principle where agents "do what there is to do", and a "DoDom" principle for dominance ranking also known as the winner-loser effect.[4] This type of research later became popular in artificial life.[citation needed]

When the first biological sequence data became available (from the EMBL) she developed a tree based algorithm for multiple sequence alignment,[5] which is now common practice in sequence alignment and phylogeny. At about the same time she pioneered folding algorithms for predicting RNA secondary structures.[6] RNA folding was also introduced to allow for a non-linear genotype to phenotype mapping to study evolution on complex fitness landscapes .[7]

The first phase-phase trajectory of a chaotic attractor in an ecological food-chain model of three differential equations appeared long before chaos became popular.[8] She pioneered the use of cellular automata for studying spatial ecological and evolutionary processes and demonstrated that spatial pattern formation can revert evolutionary selection pressures.[9]

Extending the Cellular Potts model (CPM) to study morphogenesis and development she modeled the complete life cycle of Dictyostelium discoideum using simple rules for chemotaxis and differential adhesion .[10] This CPM approach is now used for modeling in various areas of developmental biology, and the migration of immune cells in lymphoid tissues. Finally the CPM is used for EvoDevo research.

Currently, the Hogeweg lab is studying gene regulation networks; prebiotic evolution; and properties of fitness landscapes of RNA replicators.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Prof.dr. P. Hogeweg (1943 - ) at the Catalogus Professorum Academiæ Rheno-Traiectinæ
  2. ^ Hesper B., Hogeweg P. (1970.) "Bioinformatica: een werkconcept", Kameleon, 1(6): 28–29.
  3. ^ Hogeweg, P. (2011). Searls, David B., ed. "The Roots of Bioinformatics in Theoretical Biology". PLoS Computational Biology 7 (3): e1002021. Bibcode:2011PLSCB...7E0020H. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002021. PMC 3068925. PMID 21483479. 
  4. ^ Hogeweg, P. and B. Hesper (1985) Socioinformatic processes, a MIRROR modelling methodology. J Theor Biol 113: 311–330; Hogeweg, P. and B. Hesper (1983) The ontogeny of the interaction structure in bumblebee colonies: a MIRROR model", Behav Ecol Sociobiol, 12: 271–283.
  5. ^ Hogeweg, P. and B. Hesper B. (1984) The alignment of sets of sequences and the construction of phyletic trees: an integrated method. J Mol Evol 20: 175-186.
  6. ^ Hogeweg, P. and B. Hesper (1984) Energy directed folding of RNA sequences. NAR 12: 67-74.
  7. ^ Huynen, M.A. and Hogeweg, P. (1994) Pattern generation in molecular evolution: exploitation of the variation in RNA landscapes. J Mol Evol 39:71-79; Konings, D.A.M. and P. Hogeweg (1989) Pattern analysis for RNA secondary structure. Similarity and consensus of minimal-energy folding. J Mol Biol 207: 596-614.
  8. ^ Hogeweg, P. and Hesper, B. (1978) Interactive instruction on population interactions. Comput Biol Med 8:319-27.
  9. ^ Boerlijst M.A. and Hogeweg P. (1991) Spiral wave structure in pre-biotic evolution: Hypercycles stable against parasites. Physica D 48:17-28; Hogeweg, P. and B. Hesper (1981a) Two predators and a prey in a patchy environment: An application of MICMAC modelling. J Theor Biol 93: 411-432.
  10. ^ Maree A.F.M. & Hogeweg P. (2001) How amoeboids self-organize into a fruiting body: Multicellular coordination in Dictyostelium discoideum. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 98: 3879-3883; Savill, N.J. and Hogeweg, P. (1997) Modeling morphogenesis: from single cells to crawling slugs. J Theor Biol 184: 229-235.

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