Meeting of minds helps virtual human's progress

The UK’s contribution to the Virtual Physiological Human Network of Excellence (VPH-NoE) project has taken a step forward with the development by the University of Nottingham of a post-graduate VPH training programme that brings together researchers from different disciplines to consider the human body as a single complex system.

The VPH-NoE aims to create a methodological and technological framework to deliver patient-specific computer models for the personalised and predictive healthcare, along with ICT-based tools for modelling and simulation of human physiology and disease-related processes.

A week long (29th June-3rd July) study group comprising academic, clinical, and industrial researchers used the computer simulation database in the VPH-NoE to develop advanced diagnosis and treatment. Academic and industrial researchers working within life sciences presented technical challenges for study in workshops with mathematical modelers from academia.

The University of Nottingham is one of 13 European institutions involved in the VPH-NoE initiative. Its study group tried to model various problems relating to regenerative medicine, with a focus on epithelial (membrane) cells in the skin, bladder, lungs, gut, heart, and breast.

“The event successfully met the main goal which was to promote the interaction between modellers and academic and industrial experimentalists working within the life sciences,” says Dr Bindi Brook of the University’s School of Mathematical Sciences. “All problems came from the research area of regenerative aspects of epithelial cells and tissues, and were amenable to mathematical/computational modelling and analysis.”

Dr Brook adds: “A week of brainstorming and mathematical/computational modelling [gave us] enough time to generate and assess many ideas for solving the problem, and some of the ideas will be checked in more detail in the future.” Outcomes included new theoretical models, which may result in journal publications, and the initiation of multidisciplinary collaborations that Dr Brook hopes will be taken forward into funding applications.

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