BLACKSBURG, Va., Jul. 24, 2003 – VBI director Bruno Sobral, along with VBI researchers Reinhard Laubenbacher and Karen Duca, attended the “Mathematical Models of Immunity: Extrapolating Human Responses to Emerging Infectious Diseases Conference” in Bethesda, Maryland on June 10-11, 2003. Sponsored by the Division of Allergy, Immunology, and Transplantation, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and the National Institutes of Health, the three VBI faculty also discussed how mathematical modeling contributes to the future of bioinformatics and their specific current research projects.

Sobral discussed his PathPort/ToolBus project, which allows researchers to store and extrapolate complex scientific data on a web interface. As a key part of the PathPort/ToolBus project, Sobral stressed the importance and need of mathematical modeling and simulation to the PathPort storing and “crunching” system. The PathPort/ToolBus project provides data and took interoperation for infectious disease researchers. The PathPort/ToolBus platform connects “plug-in” data sources, analysis tools, and visualization components into a worldwide accessible “pathogen portal” to detect early signs and pinpoint pathogens and deadly epidemic diseases.

Duca and Laubenbacher spoke about novel approaches in computer simulations of infections, more specifically in the Sim2Virus and PathSim program prototypes. Duca and Laubenbacher are working to understand the ways pathogens cause diseases. Three approaches have been used to simulate the virus-host interactions. First, the Sim2Virus simulation program creates visuals of the spread of viruses in vitro using sophisticated mathematical analysis tools. The PathSim simulation program allows researchers to view a direct visualization of dynamic pathogen events. The unnamed third simulation program uses ordinary differential equations based on standard population dynamics for viral infections and clearance. Duca and Laubenbacher hope to generate predictions that will allow in silico simulations to be understood and used in substitute for human and animal experimentation.

Sobral, Duca and Laubenbacher continue to use VBI facilities and expertise to further their understanding of pathogens, while using mathematical modeling to “put knowledge to work.”

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Published by Public Relations, July 23, 2003