UI Engineer Receives $1.4 Million Grant to Refine Digital Model of Human Lung

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

University of Iowa News Release

Ching-Long Lin, professor of mechanical and industrial engineering in the University of Iowa College of Engineering and research engineer at IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering, has been awarded a four-year, $1.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the interactions between pulmonary airflow, lung mechanics and cell response.

In particular, the study will help develop a digital human airway defense system, a part of Lin's existing digital model of the human lung. Lin will serve as a project director on the grant, which was awarded through the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to incorporate a lung mechanics model and a cell model into his digital lung model.

Lin said that the project seeks to adopt an innovative systems biology approach that integrates in vitro cell data and in vivo image data together with imaging processing and geometric modeling. Also, computational fluid-structure-interaction technologies will be integrated with thermodynamic and mathematical models for epithelial cells and nucleotide metabolism in order to understand the interplay between organs, tissue, and cells. This method will allow modeling of the transmittal of mechanical force from macro to micro scales, and further translation to biochemical responses at a cellular level for mucociliary clearance.

The project is a collaboration between the College of Engineering and the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, with Lin's UI colleagues, professors Eric A. Hoffman, David Stoltz, Geoffrey McLennan and Gary E. Christensen. The project also includes Merryn H. Tawhai, associate professor at the Bioengineering Institute, University of Auckland, New Zealand.

"I'm very pleased to have received this new NIH grant to continue my effort in contributing to the worldwide Physiome Project. This award proves that the existing digital lung model and the concept of the proposed systems biology approach remain at the very forefront of innovative technology," he said.

The new grant is a competitive renewal of his earlier NIH grant, which was received in 2005 to develop a comprehensive digital lung model for multi-scale simulation of gas flow in the human lungs. The digital lung is based on an in-house, high-fidelity parallel computational fluid dynamics technology that utilities subject-specific airway geometries, spans spatial scales from the largest bronchial airways to alveolar sac, and employs a Computed Tomography (CT) data-driven, multistage approach to provide accurate predictions of particle transport and regional ventilation.

Lin also received an NIH Shared Instrumentation Grant (SIG) in 2008 to purchase a supercomputer to support cardiopulmonary research. This system provides a means of allowing researchers to perform large-scale parallel computation and visualization of pulmonary flow, lung mechanics, image matching and registration, cardiovascular imaging and segmentation, and lung texture analysis.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Galluzzo, writer, 319-384-0009, gary-galluzzo@uiowa.edu