CompBioMed Centre of Excellence
The CompBioMed Centre of Excellence (CoE) promotes the use of high performance computing (HPC) in the biomedical modelling community, bringing together simulation and computational analysis to develop medicine and advanced clinical practice, including working towards the future development of personalised medicine.
The project, led by Prof. Peter Coveney of UCL, involves 15 partners, including EPCC, which leads one of the six work packages, and a further 14 associate partners. The partners come from academia, industry and clinical practice so faciliating the establishment of key workflows through biomedicine.
Computational Methods, based on human biology, are now reaching maturity in the biomedical domain, rendering predictive models of health and disease increasingly relevant to clinical practice by providing a personalized aspect to treatment. Computer based modelling and simulation is well established in the physical sciences and engineering, where the use of high performance computing (HPC) is now routine.
Healthcare value chain
The CompBioMed Centre of Excellence has innovation at the forefront of its aims, promoting interdisciplinary entrepreneurial opportunities driven by users’ needs. The CoE will support and facilitate modelling and simulation activities, and provide education and training for a diverse set of communities.
The CoE will provide a focal point for the development and sustainability of software tools and services which are capable of delivering high fidelity three and four dimensional (including time) modelling and simulation of all aspects of the human body, from the genomic level to the whole human and beyond, in health and disease.
HPC has the potential to enhance industries in the healthcare sector including pharmaceuticals and medical device manufacturers, and to underpin a range of emerging sectors, such as those concerned with e-health and personalised medicine. The innovative modelling and simulation techniques developed and promoted within this Centre will be of great interest and relevance to industrial researchers, HPC manufacturers and independent software vendors
The CoE’s research will focus on three aspects: cardiovascular disease, molecularly based medicine and neuro-musculoskeletal medicine.
Cardiovascular disease accounts for half of sudden deaths in Europe; improvements in patient risk stratification and prediction of clinical intervention are both urgent and challenging. In this area two critically important disease areas will be studied: firstly, cardiovascular diseases having a direct effect on the function of the heart itself, be it on the electrophysiology, mechanics or blood flow (and, ultimately, the combination of all three); and secondly, arterial disorders, be they aneurysms in the abdominal aorta or in intracranial arteries, or stenosis in carotid or coronary arteries.
Molecularly-based medicine research will use computational models that can reposition and target therapies for precision medicine, through rapid and accurate assessment of drug efficacy in specific disease cases.
Neuro-musculoskeletal medicine: Despite a common perception that most neuro-musculoskeletal diseases are not life threatening, around 30% of the elderly who face an osteoporotic fracture of the hip joint will die of related complications within 12 months. The CoE will investigate applications such as skeletal muscle, cartilage, connective tissue modelling of the deformation of tissues under biomechanical loads.
The CoE will manage and provision access to personal (patient specific) derived medical data in a research environment. This requires the ability to perform high fidelity 3D and 4D HPC based simulations and, at the sharp end, provide clinical decision support within very short timeframes (often minutes, hours or a few days).
The rapid rise of detailed medical imaging, genomic data, abundant proteomic, metabolomic, biological, and physiological data on all levels of biological organisation (macromolecules, cells, tissues, organs, organ systems, the whole body and, indeed, epidemiology), permits the development of mathematically based, mechanistic and predictive multiscale models of human health and disease. The software tools and techniques developed within CompBioMed will help healthcare providers make sense of the vast array of data now available, and will have a major impact on the clinical decision making process.
EPCC and CompBioMed
Edinburgh leads Work Package 4 on ‘Innovating and Sustainability’. The purpose of this work package is to ensure the Centre of Excellence creates and implements both a strong sense of innovation and sustains its standing at the forefront of on-demand HPC for biomedical research. We are also involved in all of the six work packages and lead tasks in three of them.
The CompBioMed CoE began on 1 October 2016 and will run for three years. It is the ninth European Centre of Excellence (CoE) for computing applications to be funded by the European Commission Horizon 2020 programme.