DigitalHuman (DH): An Integrative Mathematical Model of Human Physiology

Date(s) - 09/21/2009
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Dr. Robert Hester, Professor, University of Mississippi Medical Center

Mathematical models and simulation are important tools in discovering the key causal relationships governing physiological processes and improving medical intervention when physiological complexity is a central issue.  We have developed a model of integrative human physiology called DigitalHuman (DH) consisting of ~5000 variables modeling human physiology describing cardiovascular, renal, respiratory, endocrine, neural and metabolic physiology.  Users can view time-dependent solutions and interactively introduce perturbations by altering numerical parameters to investigate new hypotheses. The variables, parameters and quantitative relationships as well as all other model details are described in XML text files. All aspects of the model, including the mathematical equations describing the physiological processes are written in XML open source, text-readable files. Model structure is based upon empirical data of physiological responses documented within the peer-reviewed literature. The model can be used to understand proposed physiological mechanisms and physiological interactions that may not be otherwise intuitively evident. Some of the current uses of this model include the analyses of renal control of blood pressure, the central role of the liver in creating and maintaining insulin resistance, and the mechanisms causing orthostatic hypotension in astronauts. Additionally the open source aspect of the modeling environment allows any investigator to add detailed descriptions of human physiology to test new concepts. The model accurately predicts both qualitative and more importantly quantitative changes in clinically and experimentally observed responses. DigitalHuman provides scientists a modeling environment to understand the complex interactions of integrative physiology. Supported by NIH HL 51971, NSF EPSCoR, and NASA