From Cells to Organs: Exploring Variability in Physiological Systems


Cardia Waves

Everybody is different, and every body is different. Significant variability is a common feature of all of the physiological systems that compose the function of the human body, and understanding this variability is critical to explaining differences in susceptibility to pathological conditions, and also to explaining how medical treatments can potentially succeed or fail even when applied to treat the same condition. Variability manifests itself at all levels in all organs of living organisms: from ionic mechanisms to long range electrical activity. In addition, biological tissue is heterogeneous at a variety of different spatial and temporal scales and one of the key issues in physiology is how structure affects function. This project explores variability and the issue of how structure affects function in both the heart and the brain using state of the art modelling, simulation, data analytics and visualisation approaches.

Using modern statistical techniques, we have produced sophisticated algorithms for constructing "in silico" populations that fully represent the variability in physiological function represented by given data. We have also developed code towards running physiological models in greatly reduced time, allowing the extreme computational cost of these models to be avoided and hence making feasible the large numbers of model runs required to properly explore variability in complex and highly nonlinear systems.

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