Multiscale modelling of the skeletal system: the vision of integrative research

Dr. Marco Viceconti, Laboratorio di Tecnologia Medica, Istituto Ortopedico Rizzoli, Bologna - Italy

Tuesday 20 May, Location: MRC-LMCB, time: 17:00

The classic reductionist approach we all use in science shows its limits when we investigate complex systems, such as those involved with many physiological and pathological processes.  In these systems the most important mechanisms result as emergences from the interaction of sub-systems that are defined at radically different space-time scales.  In order to capture these interactions, after having decomposed the system in its parts, we need to “recompose” it into a whole.  This is called biomedical integrative research. This idea has been around for a while now under various names (physiome, system biology, etc.).  Since 2005 however, it has received a strong impulse from the Virtual Physiological Human (VPH) initiative. The VPH is the framework of methods and technologies that once established will make practically possible the vision of integrative research. 

The seminar will revise the general concepts that are emerging from VPH research, and then will provide a tentative methodological framework where this new concept of integrative model finds a formal definition. From this we shall focus on a specific organ system, the skeletal apparatus, and present the current state of the art with respect to the use of integrative research approaches in the prediction of the biomechanical competence of the skeleton.  As concrete example we shall describe some recent applications in paediatric skeletal oncology, and in the prediction of the risk of fracture in osteoporotic patients.

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