Multiscale modelling methods in biomechanics


Dr Pinaki Bhattacharya talks about his research on the catergorisation for multiscale modelling in biomechanics.
Multiscale modelling in biomechanics is a relatively new research domain. It has potential applications in preventing and developing treatments for a wide variety of diseases, however, because of this wide-ranging applicability, multiscale models that exist are also very different from each other. The broad range of application of multiscale modelling in biomechanics, on one- hand signifies its importance but at the same time presents unique challenges in categorising research carried out within. This review will benefit researchers in critiquing future research directions in this domain. It is timely because the domain is relatively new and much work remains to be done.”

This creates difficulties in assessing how the field of research is progressing and in determining what questions remain unanswered. These questions are important for researchers and science policy makers associated with this research domain.

In this paper, we proposed a categorisation for multiscale models in biomechanics. The categorisation is based on what motivates a given model. One possible motivation is to simply confirm that the ’cause’ assumed by a multiscale model agrees with observations. A more ambitious motivation is to show that the model can ‘predict’ accurately. The most ambitious motivation is to demonstrate that the multiscale model determines an ‘effect’ that is not possible by the best available single-scale model. In this review paper, we provided tests to determine the category of motivation for a given model. The tests are obviously stricter when going from a causal confirmation type model to one that is motivated by determination of effect. We showed how these tests could be put to practice by applying them to a large body of original research articles.

From this exercise, a unified picture emerged for the first time regarding the progress made in multiscale modelling in biomechanics. It was found that the overwhelming number of models (73/85) were motivated by causal confirmation, whereas only one model (out of 85) was motivated by determination of effect. From a medical perspective, musculoskeletal biomechanics and cardiovascular biomechanics are especially important sub-domains of biomechanics. Therefore in this review we highlighted open questions in these sub-domains which, if answered, would advance the state-of-the-art along more ambitiously motivated models.

Full text: Bhattacharya, P., Viceconti, M., Multiscale Modeling Methods in Biomechanics WIREs Systems Biology and Medicine (2017), e1375