U.S $10 million to build virtual lung

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will lead a $10 million, five-year multi-institutional National Institutes of Health study to devise 3-D imaging and computational models of unsurpassed detail of respiratory systems in humans and other mammals, PNNL announced today.

The grant will enable the Department of Energy lab and its partners to devise imaging and simulation techniques that promise a better understanding of the fate of airborne contaminants in the respiratory system, to help improve treatments for asthma and other respiratory ailments. The research will culminate in a "pulmonary physiome," a web-based model for researchers and clinicians.

"This partnership will build the foundation for studying environment-disease interactions," said Richard Corley, PNNL staff scientist and program director. Specifically, the project aims to "provide researchers and clinicians with uniquely predictive tools to understand the impact of airborne environmental agents and inhaled drugs on human health and to answer important questions on how respiratory structure relates to function. This will greatly assist in the evaluation, diagnosis and development of treatments."

PNNL established its leadership in the field in 2001 when it rolled out the model of working rat lungs it called "the virtual respiratory tract." At the time, it offered the clearest picture yet of how pollutants enter the respiratory system, how they move and where they accumulate.

The other institutions participating in the new study are the University of Washington, University of California at Davis, the University of Iowa, Oregon State University, University of Utah, CIIT Centers for Health Research of Research Triangle Park, N.C., Mountain-Whisper-Light Statistical Consulting of Seattle and Computational Geometry Consulting of Los Alamos, N.M.

Further information http://www.pnl.gov/news/2001/01-33.htm

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