Mecheng News Publication
- Lecturer Dr Vanessa Diaz: Appointed Chair of the Science, Engineering & Technology panel
- Bright Club - Are bio-fuels funny?
- Mark Miodownik: Stuff Matters review
- 2013 UCL Bright Ideas Awards
- Royal Academy of Engineering Rooke Medal
- In vivo preclinical stage started for the Triskele UCL Transcatheter Aortic Valve
- Formula Student 2013
- Macromolecular Rapid Communications
- Osborne Reynolds Research Student award
- Mr Santiago Suárez De La Fuente wins IMarEST Stanley Gray Fellowship 24 July 2013
- Senior Promotions for 2013
- Cell Electrospinning featured on BBC World News
- An encapsulated drug delivery system for recalcitrant urinary tract infection
- James Cook wins the first Parmigiani Spirit Award
- Prof Edirisinghe scoops third Royal Society award
- Event: "Lost in Translation" Tuesday November 19, 13:00
- Coastal storm talk online
- What's in a SNAME?
- What do you get an engineer for Christmas?
- Meet Helen Czerski, Bubble Scientist
- On the road again: UCL Racing 2014 seeks drivers
- Mark Miodownik: Bye bye brolly
- "Super-hydrophobic?" Meet Dr Manish K Tiwari
- "and the winner is..." researchers Sherwood and Nithyanandan pick up prizes
- In pictures: SET for Britain 2014
- New device for four-layered macromolecular particles invented
- Limitless: An interview with Professor Yiannis Ventikos
- Major changes to global shipping needed to reduce emissions
- UCL’s Media Communicator of the Year (Broadcast) is…
- Mech Eng undergraduates storm the UK top ten
- The passing of John Inns
- Six days, seven nights: my week as a Royal Navy submariner by Lucy Collins
- Usher shines amongst Chinese stars
- UCL team look to the future with new eco marathon entry
- Watching stressful movies triggers changes to your heartbeat
- Helen Czerski: Low carbon flight on the horizon?
- MechEng researcher/alumni scoop prestigious international naval awards
- James Cook awarded for his Bright Idea
- "Computational Biomedicine" a Q&A with Dr Vanessa Diaz
- The future of mitral valve surgery?
- Israfil's nano-delight
- Event: 'Animals and Engineers: learning from nature.'
- Academic promotions 2014
- Event: Micro and Nano Flows Conference 2014
- UCL MechEng to research ultra efficient engines in £6m EPSRC projects
- Jaguar Land Rover invests £1m in engine combustion research project
- Mark Miodownik’s excellent week
- MUSE team wins Marie Curie ‘blue skies’ research funding
"Computational Biomedicine" a Q&A with Dr Vanessa Diaz
2 July 2014
UCL Mechanical Engineering's Dr Vanessa Diaz has co-edited Computational Biomedicine: Modelling the Human Body published by the Oxford University Press. This textbook aims to help chart the future of this new medical discipline. We caught up with her shortly after the book's launch.
According to the Independent “Computational Biomedicine" is the world's first textbook dedicated to the direct use of computer simulation in the diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of a disease.” That must be a source of some pride…
How did your involvement in the project come about?
This was a direct consequence of my involvement on the "Virtual Physiological Human Network of Excellence" project, that I was helping to coordinate. We had to develop educational material and the idea was to make it the best it could be. We spoke to Oxford University Press and they thought it was a very good idea because there was no book on the market covering this.
What was the process like
of putting this textbook together?
hard. First of all, we had to come up with a coherent story for this book. We had
to cover so many topics...then we had to find people who were willing to put their
time and effort (there are quite a few contributors!) and work to a hard deadline. All this, after going through rounds and rounds of revisions...when I look back I think "this is insane". Too much work. But we had people helping along the way on the editorial form to help 'unify' the text. Something that I was adamant about is that I didn't want this to look like a collection of articles. The book had to tell a story and it had to be understandable from A to Z.
To what extent do you think these emerging computational techniques are the future of medicine?
To the extent that I think medicine will undergo a radical change within the next 25 years and that is because of the emergence of what we call 'personalised medicine'. We will use computational tools and techniques to create a virtual 'you' (or what's inside you) and to design and tailor treatments specifically for each one of us.
How long do you think it will be before these new methodologies will be impacting ordinary patients?
I think these techniques are already impacting the life of patients. Imaging is a case in point in which their use is so clear that they have become common place. Medical devices is another case in point, I think we'll see in a few years more and more computers used to guide surgery. For example, we are currently collaborating with some surgeons in UCH to try to understand how they should operate and what kind of stent to use when they do so. Moving even further, this idea of the 'virtual you' is that we are trying to move from 'evidence based' medicine to 'explanation based' medicine. We are trying to establish 'functional relationships' within you, to try to discover the cause-effect relationships between your unique biology and how your health is doing. That requires a huge amount of a) thinking b) work c) data!
What’s your own research focus at the moment?
The focus of our group is in personalised, "multi scale" modelling within the cardiovascular field. In lay terms, that means that we try to produce these computers models of yourself in the vein of the 'virtual you' and to combine engineering tools with biology to capture these cause-effect relationships at different biological levels and time points. Basically, we try to represent 'you' formulating hypotheses based on biological knowledge and then we use maths and engineering tools to capture that and solving the gigantic puzzle that we end up with.
In terms of applications, we have two main ones: on one hand, we are interested in applying our techniques to understand atherosclerosis and its many clinical manifestations (stroke, myocardial infarction, peripheral arterial disease, vascular dementia etc.) If anyone is interested in speaking to me, please feel free to do so! On the other hand, we are interested in aortic problems and this is more of a surgical angle, about why some patients suffer from some aortic diseases (aortic dissections, aneurysms), how to guide clinical interventions and the management of the patient. Again, get in touch if you want to collaborate (shameless plug here!)
For a lay person computational biomedicine sounds far from their idea of engineering in general and mechanical engineering in particular. How are the fields related?
We are trying to unravel the mechanisms of disease by using mathematics and engineering tools. The whole concept of 'personalised medicine' relies on the fact that we want to a) understand what is going by b) using computational tools to c) design a better treatment for each patient in order to d) manage their health. This is a very 'engineery' approach, don't you think?
In the case of my specific research area, cardiovascular research, well, if you think of your heart as the most important pump that ever existed and your arteries and veins as the pipeline that will keep you alive by feeding your organs all that they need for you to survive...then I think you see how this is engineering at its finest!
What are your and your co-editors hopes for the textbook?
That the students and young researchers that will read it think it is useful. What else can we ask for?
Page last modified on 02 jul 14 16:08