Agent-based Computational Modeling of Multi-Cellular Systems

Date(s) - 03/08/2021
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Virtual via Zoom

Shayn Peirce-Cottler, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Virginia


Shayn Peirce-Cottler, Ph.D.
Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Pinn Scholar, School of Medicine
BME Graduate Program Director
Co-Director, UVA Center for Advanced Biomanufacturing
University of Virginia

The most prevalent, devastating, and complex diseases of our time, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and infectious diseases, involve the interactions of heterogeneous cells with one another and with their changing environment. However, the drugs we typically use to treat these diseases target a single protein (e.g. anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) for treating diabetic retinopathy) and disregard the fact that cells within tissues are highly heterogeneous and have individualized responses that contribute to the tissue-level outcomes. To bridge the gap between protein and multi-cell/tissue-levels of spatial scale, my lab develops agent-based computational models and uses them in combination with experiments to predict how individual cell behaviors give rise to tissue-level adaptations. We have used agent-based modeling to simulate the structural adaptations of large and small blood vessels, cardiac and skeletal muscle regeneration following injury, and immune cell trafficking and differentiation during inflammation and fibrosis. Our studies have suggested new mechanistic hypotheses and provided guidance for the design of novel therapies that account for the dynamic and heterogeneous interactions between different cell types within diseased and regenerating tissues.


Shayn Peirce-Cottler, Ph.D. is Professor of Biomedical Engineering with secondary appointments in the Department of Ophthalmology and Department of Plastic Surgery at the University of Virginia (UVA). Dr. Peirce-Cottler received Bachelor’s of Science degrees in Biomedical Engineering and Engineering Mechanics from The Johns Hopkins University in 1997. She earned her Ph.D. in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Virginia in 2002. Dr. Peirce-Cottler develops and uses computational models in conjunction with experiments to study structural and functional adaptations of tissues, in both health and disease, in order to develop new therapies for inducing regeneration in injured tissues or restoring homeostasis to diseased tissues. Her lab’s core expertise is in combining agent-based computational modeling with in vivo imaging of murine experimental models to examine and control the multi-cell interactions involved in angiogenesis and tissue regeneration. Dr. Peirce-Cottler has published over 100 peer reviewed papers and book chapters, and she is the inventor on two issued U.S. Patents. She is a fellow in both the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering College of Fellows and in the Biomedical Engineering Society. She is also Past-President of The Microcirculatory Society. At UVA she teaches courses on computational modeling and cell and molecular physiology, and she is the Director of the Graduate Program in Biomedical Engineering and the Co-Director of UVA’s Center for Advanced Biomanufacturing.