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Mar 25, 2010

NMS Physiome started on January 2010

By Martina Contin

An international collaboration for musculoskeletal predictive medicine, called Neuro-Musculo-Skeletal Physiome or NMS Physiome for short, officially started on January 27th, 2010. This three-year cooperation program between two large research initiatives, the European VPHOP (The Osteoporotic Virtual Physiological Human) and the United States SIMBIOS (the NIH Center for Physics-based Simulation of Biological Structures), aims to develop synergies in terms of tools, infrastructures, and research activities related to musculoskeletal predictive medicine. The collaboration is funded as part of the European Union’s Virtual Physiological Human initiative.

VPHOP and SIMBIOS are two of the largest research projects worldwide developing technology for personalised, predictive, and integrative musculoskeletal medicine. These two projects have the same strategic objective and are developing highly complementary technologies. This unique condition creates a compelling opportunity for international collaboration on one of the grand challenges of biomedical research.

VPHOP, formed by a consortium of 19 partner institutions led by the Rizzoli Orthopaedic Institute, is developing the next generation of health technologies to fight osteoporosis. As part of this endeavour, the personalised modelling of the patient’s neuro-musculo-skeletal system is essential.

SIMBIOS, led by Stanford University, provides infrastructure, software, and training to help biomedical researchers understand biological form and function as they create novel drugs, synthetic tissues, medical devices, and surgical interventions. The cluster of projects connected to SIMBIOS is investigating a wide scale of biological structures - from molecules to organisms. Driving biological problems include RNA folding, protein folding, myosin dynamics, cardiovascular dynamics, and neuromuscular biomechanics. In particular, Stanford University’s Scott Delp, a co-Principal Investigator of SIMBIOS, and his team focus on the accurate modelling and simulation of the neuro-musculo-skeletal system.

In addition to the Rizzoli Orthopaedic Institute and Stanford University, the NMS Physiome project will include the participation of Empirica, SCS, and the University of Bedfordshire, all members of the VPHOP consortium.

NMS Physiome activities will revolve primarily around three objectives:
· Integrate the community web services developed by VPHOP and SIMBIOS (Biomed Town and to provide a more complete set of resources for the neuromuscular modelling community.
· Integrate the software tools developed by the two groups—MAF and OpenSim—along with FEBio, developed by collaborator Jeff Weiss from the University of Utah, in order to provide an enhanced toolset for neuromusculoskeletal modelling.
· Combine the latest research achievements of the two consortia to better address some of the grand challenges that multiscale modelling of the musculoskeletal system poses, for example, the creation of accurate patient-specific models from clinically available data, efficient multiscale modelling of the musculoskeletal system, and the development of modelling methods to cope with the probabilistic nature of the neuromotor function.

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