2019 activities and achievements

2019 has been an intense and fruitful year for the VPH Institute! Now that 2020 has started, we would like to take the opportunity to give you an overview of what has been done and what it is already planned for next year.

Consolidated long term relationships with the European Commission

Over the years, the VPHi has established and consolidated a solid relationship with different EC Units, in particular DG CNECT and DG RDT.  In 2019, the VPHi had few face-to-face meetings with EC representatives that gave us the opportunity to present the VPHi activities and success stories and also to plan the next steps to bring the use of computer modeling and simulation from the computer to the patient.

Shaping Horizon Europe

In Autumn, the European Commission launched a public consultation on the Horizon Europe to contribute to co-designing and shaping the future research and innovation investment. The VPHi took this opportunity to make its voice heard on the need to keep on funding the development of in silico medicine in Horizon Europe. The VPHi prepared a response to the consultation, that was submitted by our organisation in concert with the membership at large.
As a follow up of this initiative, the VPH Institute and the Avicenna Alliance attended the European Research and Innovation Days on 26 September 2019, were they had the chance to meet with several staff members of European Commission's DG Research & Innovation (DG RTD) who were genuinely interested in helping to put in silico forward in Horizon Europe, the next research and innovation programme.
More details on: https://www.vph-institute.org/news/vph-institute-answers-the-online-consultation-to-shape-horizon-europe-2021-2024.html

Research & Technology Working Group

Prof Lies Geris leads the Research & Technology Working Group, which sees the collaboration between our members and the industry members of the Avicenna Alliance. The WG aims to bridge the missing mile between basic research and the commercialization of products, focussing on:

  • providing input for future Horizon Europe funding opportunities (calls, programs); identifying unmet (technical) needs that are of common interest to industry and academia;
  • leading the collaboration with EMA on how to tackle the validation challenge of in silico models in the drug development space;
  • writing white papers on relevant topics to educate different stakeholders (e.g. on relation of AI/machine learning to the whole spectrum of in silico methods)

This year, the working group was very active and gave birth to a number of collaborative projects:

  • EMA working group: after a first physical meeting organised in Leuven in April, the VPHi tightened its collaboration with the European Medicines Agency, with the common goals of speeding up the adoption process of in silico models in the regulatory drug development process. Out of this, a working group has been created that sees the collaboration of both VPHi members, EMA representatives and AA industry expert and meets once a month (tcon) to draft a proper white paper tackling the validation challenge of computer modeling & simulation in drug development. The result aims to be a European document, aligned with the U.S. V&V40 document.
  • Subgroups: two subgroups of the main Research & Technology WG have been created that focuses on very specific topics:
      1. Orthopaedics (common challenges between industry & academia)
      2. Tissue Birth Certificate (establishing the meta-information and testing protocols that is required for the results to be considered by FDA and EMA in regulatory filing)
  • White papers: The VPHi is contributing to the drafting of a number of white paper of key research topics:
      1. Pediatrics
      2. Drug development
      3. AI and its role in the in silico spectrum

VPHi Special Issue in the Morphologie Journal

Prof Lies Geris in collaboration with Prof Jan Van Sint edited a special issue of the Morphologie journal titled “Modelling towards a more holistic medicine: The Virtual Physiological Human (VPH)”. The issue gathers a collection of the most advaced VPH research success stories, that will be now further used in our communication to disseminate the value of VPH research via our website.

VPHi video: In silico Medicine will be the Future

Using its members as testimonial, the VPHi released a promotional video that presents the activities that we focus on and explains the nature of our organisation: the VPHi is not just a scientific society. We actively involve a number of stakeholders like the European Commission, the EU Parliament, the industry and the regulators (both in the EU and USA) to make sure that in silico technology can make it to the clinic.
The video can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cse_GBcHcsc

VPHi awards

In 2019, the Institute has assigned the following awards:

  • VPHI BEST POSTER AWARD at the occasion of the 2019 VPH SUMMER SCHOOL assigned to Marilisa Cortesi, University of Bologna, for her work on “An in-silico study of cancer cell survival and spatial distribution within a 3D microenvironment”
  • 2019 BEST VPHI THESIS AWARD IN IN SILICO MEDICINE assigned to Alan Fabbri for his PhD thesis at the University of Bologna titled “Computational modeling of human sinoatrial node: what simulations tell us about pacemaking”


VPHi webinar series
In 2019, the VPHi student committee took care of the organisation of the following webinars, with the goal to provide a forum for access to senior community members and their expert competence on key research topics:

  • 3 May 2019: “VPHi Keynote webinar featuring the winners of the VPHi best thesis in in silico medicine” by Jan Bruse & Francesc Levrero-Florencio
  • 12 June 2019: “Multiscale exploration of the respiratory system through models and simulations” by Prof Merryn Tawhai from Auckland Bioengineering Institute

All our webinars can be viewed at: https://www.vph-institute.org/webinar.html

The VPHi also collaborated to organise the Combiomed Webinar series that in 2019 released webinars on the following topics:

  • Sensitivity analysis of a strongly coupled cardiac electro-mechanical model
  • Eudat services for fair data management
  • Hemelb – simulation of cardiovascular flow on high performance computers

Establishment of the VPHi UK Chapter

In 2019 the VPHi UK Chapter has become an up-and-running reality. The governance structure and board composition were finalised and the chapter took care of the organisation of a number of events, such as the a VPHi-UK special session on “Virtual Physiological Human Research" at the occasion of the BioMedEng19 conference

Collaboration agreement with ESB 

To consolidate a long-standing relationship, the VPHi and the European Society of Biomechanics (ESB) signed an agreement to formalise the basis for an even stronger collaboration. The two organisations have agreed to establish an affiliation of their societies to improve the representation of the computational biomechanics community and improve the mutual promotion of the cross-disciplinary use of computational methods and biomechanics in both the ESB and VPHi communities.

In silico world on Slack

Prof Marco Viceconti’s research team at the University of Bologna has launched an online Community of Practice, based on the Slack platform, where experts from academia, industry, and regulatory agencies can request and exchange advices on the technical details on in silico medicine technologies and their regulatory qualification. The VPH Institute has offered its support and collaboration to implement this initiative, supporting the creation of technical webinars, and structured consensus processes.

A lot has been done, but there is still a lot more to do in 2020. If you have any questions/ suggestions or you simply wish to get more involved in our activities, don't hesitate to contact us: manager@vph-institute.org

Date: 18/02/2020 | Tag: | News: 1045 of 1589
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