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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 10, 2005

Engineer Receives $916,909 NIH Grant To Develop Digital Human Lung

Ching-Long Lin, associate professor of mechanical and industrial engineering in the University of Iowa College of Engineering and associate faculty research engineer at the IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering, has been awarded a three-year, $916,909 National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to develop a digital human lung.

Lin will serve as project director on the grant, awarded through the National Institute for Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), to develop the digital lung for a multi-scale simulation of gas flow in the human lung. He says, "The ultimate goal of the project is to develop a comprehensive, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model for pulmonary air flow that utilizes subject-specific airway geometries, spans spatial scales from the largest bronchial airways to alveolar sac, and employs a Computed Tomography (CT) data-driven, multistage approach to provide accurate predictions of regional ventilation and gas transport through the entire moving airway tree."

According to Lin, "Some potential applications of the digital lung model include, but are not limited to, understanding gas transport and mixing in Xenon/Helium enhanced CT/MRI imaging, improving pharmaceutical drug aerosol delivery and predicting subject-specific regional ventilation for diagnosis of patterns related to pathologic changes in airway geometry and parenchyma."

The project aims to establish a novel collaboration between researchers in engineering and the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, with Lin's UI colleagues being Eric A. Hoffman, professor of radiology and biomedical engineering and project co-principal investigator, and Geoffrey McLennan, professor of internal medicine and project co-investigator. The project also has an international connection with Merryn H. Tawhai, research scientist at the Bioengineering Institute, University of Auckland, New Zealand, rounding out the project team as co-investigator. Together, they offer complementary expertise in modeling and validating fluid transport in the respiratory system at different scales.

Lin says that the project also fits within the framework of two of the most significant ongoing research efforts in pulmonary science: the Lung Atlas and the International Union of Physiological Sciences (IUPS) Physiome Project. The Lung Atlas Project -- a recently awarded NIH Bioengineering Research Partnership grant led by Dr. Hoffman and for which Lin serves as co-investigator -- aims to document airway geometry over four decades of aging in healthy and diseased adult humans. The Physiome Project is a worldwide effort to develop integrative computational models at all levels of biological organization, ranging from genes to the whole organism. Dr. Tawhai is the lead scientist in developing Lung Physiome. Simulation results will be interpreted and related to clinical application by Dr. McLennan.

Lin received his doctorate in mechanical engineering from Stanford University in 1994. His special fields of knowledge include four-dimensional data assimilation, large-eddy simulation and turbulence dynamics.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009, gary-galluzzo@uiowa.edu; Writer: Lynn Hudachek