Paul Macklin, an associate professor of intelligent systems engineering at the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, has been awarded a grant from the Jayne Koskinas and Ted Giovanis Foundation for Health and Policy to support rapid, community driven development of a SARS-CoV-2 tissue simulator.
Using PhysiCell, an open source, agent-based modeling framework for 3D multicellular developed by Macklin, an international coalition of mathematical biologists, virologists, pharmacologists, computer scientists and others from academia, industry, and national laboratories have come together to develop a multiscale model of SARS-CoV-2 dynamics in human lung and other tissues. The aim is to better understand the disease and develop effective treatments.
“It has been incredible for the community to come together and share time and expertise to build something together,” Macklin said. “None of us could accomplish this project alone, but together we’re going to have a sophisticated modeling framework ready for the scientific community by the summer. It’s my absolute honor to lead such a tremendous team.”
Macklin first became involved with JKTGF as part of the Applied Mathematics in Germinating Oncology Solutions program, which helped build interdisciplinary teams to apply mathematical modeling to breast cancer.
“When Ted Giovanis and the Foundation heard we were adapting the mathematical modeling and simulation techniques first developed in the AMIGOS program to try to make a difference in the COVID-19 outbreak, we talked about how we might work together,” Macklin said. “This funding comes at a critical time for the project when we need to continue growing leadership and technical contributions within our coalition. This means we can accomplish rapid prototyping and move towards a working model this summer, when it can make the biggest difference.”
With a COVID-19 vaccine months away, this collaborative project will help identify pharmacologic interventions that can disrupt and slow the disease in patients while improving their immune responses and minimizing harmful damage.
“Paul’s work underscores the importance of collaboration to achieve timely solutions that can help patients today and in the future,” Giovanis said. “The Foundation is pleased to support research that breaks down silos across scientific disciplines and geographic boundaries to achieve better health for us all.”