Researchers successfully tackle a multiscale Osteoarthritic knee challenge – Modelathon 2020

Modelathon Participants and Supporters

The MultiSim, OATech+ Modelathon 2020 took place 13 – 16 January 2020 at the Diamond Building, Sheffield and aimed to provide an opportunity to discuss, network, and practise multi-scale research modelling skills through a hackathon competition with industry software and hands-on support from modelling experts. Modelathon 2020 was attended by 25 multi-scale researchers from a number of leading research-intensive universities.  This year for the first time we were joined remotely by a team of 6 researchers from the Human Movement Biomechanics Research Group, in KU Leuven, Belgium. For the second time MultiSim partnered with OATech+ to deliver a Osteoarthritis-based challenge: Optimisation of interventions for osteoarthritic patients with multi-scale modelling.

The Modelathon opened with a one-day symposium: Experimental and computational approaches to optimise the treatment of osteoarthritis, where the 53 attendees engaged with the following presentations:

Symposium Speakers in order of appearance

Challenges in personalised musculoskeletal modelling: an insight from the MultiSim project, Prof Claudia Mazzà, Director of MultiSim.

A brief overview of the OATech+ Network and research updates about: Linking Biomechanics, Biology and Clinical measures to understand the effects of knee OA and responses to surgery, Prof Cathy Holt, PI of OAtech+ network.

Meeting safety requirements of personalised treatment using in silico trials, Prof Richie Gill, President of British Orthopaedic Research Society.

Subject specific finite element models in the application of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, Dr Shannon Li, MultiSim.

Mechanical interplay across the osteochondral junction, Prof Andrew Pitsillides, OAtech+ network.

Followed by a round table discussion on Evaluation and development of new treatments for osteoarthritic joints by combining computational modelling and experimental methods.

Over the next three days the four teams in Sheffield and the the remote team in Leuven, developed and then integrated models at three different scales, musculoskeletal whole body, finite element knee joint and osteoarthritic tissue models, to understand the effects of the progression osteoarthritis and its treatments on the knee joint.

Modelathon leader, Enrico Dall’Ara with the winning team:
Will Henson, University of Sheffield,
James Charles, University of Liverpool,
Anneke Verbruggen, National University of Ireland – Galway,
Oluwasegun Kayode, University of Leeds,
Martin Revel, University of Lyon,
Conor O’Keeffe, Trinity College Dublin,
Zehao Ji, University of Cambridge

100% of respondents to our feedback survey said they would recommend the Modelathon event to a friend.

Here is a selection of quotes from our event’s participants on their experience this year.

Keep a look out for details of the Modelathon 2021.

Enrico Dall’Ara

Modelathon Leader, MultiSim, Insigneo, University of Sheffield

I was impressed about the quality of the solutions to the complex multi-scale biomechanical problem that have been presented by our participants this year and what they have achieved during the Modelathon. This is the confirmation that these PhD students and Postdocs will be the next generation leaders in biomechanics.

Clint Davies-Taylor

Director, SIMULIA Academic Development - EMEAR, Dassault Systèmes

Dassault Systèmes is proud to have supported the MultiSim Modelathon since its inception in 2015. Following its acquisition of Medidata in 2019, Dassault Systèmes has elevated Life Sciences to one of its most important business sectors. So this year’s theme is very much aligned with our long-term goals.

This year’s Modelathon brought together 31 of the brightest PhD and PostDoc Researchers from around the world, future leaders in their fields, to compete in teams against one another to solve a complex multi-scale modelling problem based around an osteoarthritic knee joint.

My role during the event is to support participants with my knowledge of the software and my experience in the Life Sciences industry. This is as an excellent opportunity to provide participants with a leading portfolio of software to help them reach their goal and, ultimately, that they will use in the future.

I have personally provided the support for each of the Modelathons to date, and I continue to be inspired and excited to see how the teams work together to tackle the challenges.

The Modelathon is a unique and inspirational event, and we at Dassault Systèmes are keen to help it flourish.

Claude Hayford

Challenge 1 (Musculoskeletal) Leader, University of Sheffield

This was my first time participating in an event of this sort and although it was challenging, I found the experience worthwhile. It was most fascinating to see how each team approached the different tasks and how they brought their varied expertise to solving a common problem. The biggest highlight for me was the exchange of ideas and networking opportunity this provided. In all, the modelathon was very educative and hands-on and I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in multiscale modelling.

Qiao Li

Challenge 3 (Tissue) Leader, University of Sheffield

I was quite honoured to be involved in the Modelathon 2020 as challenge #3 leader. In the challenge #3, participants were dedicated to model the temporary tissue changes of bone-cartilage complex during the effect of Osteoarthritis. I was amazed by their achievement in such a short time. All of them successfully finished their tasks and some of them even took more effects into consideration. It was indeed an enjoyable experience for me.

Nicos Haralabidis

PhD Student, University of Bath

The MultiSim OATech+ Modelathon provided me with a fantastic oversight of multi-scaling biomechanical modelling, and I have walked away with a much greater understanding of how to integrate the different models. I also particularly enjoyed interacting with my team mates during the challenge and learning new skills from them. The event was superbly organised and was excellent value for money, I will definitely be recommending it to my colleagues.

Satanik Mukherje

PhD Student, KU Leuven, Belgium

Attending the MultiSim OATech+ Modelathon was quite an unique and enriching experience. The Symposium in the first day included interesting talks from leading professors in the OA research. The modelathon was aimed at multiscale modelling of the the knee joint and intervention strategies. During the modelathon, the interesting challenges posed us made the members work together as a team to accomplish the final goals. It was a perfect example to appreciate collaborative research, albeit in a small time frame. I  came back with lots of knowledge about multiscale modelling and potential collaborators for future.

Valentin Allard

PhD Student, University of Lyon, France

A well-organised event with really nice people, pushing forward your knowledge of biomechanics and software skills in order to solve a complex problem. I recommend it vividly to anyone starting a PhD in biomechanics.

Oluwasegun Kayode

PhD Student, University of Leeds, UK

It was really good. I got the opportunity to challenge myself and learn from the other members of my team.

Connor O’Keeffe

PhD Student, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

Participating in Modelathon 2020 was an amazing experience. As a first year PhD student I felt it was a great opportunity to network, learn new ideas and develop my skills in modelling.

Diana Cruz De Oliveira

PhD Student, University of Birmingham, UK

Modelathon was indeed an amazing opportunity to expand my modelling knowledge beyond my usual research and become familiar with different facets of the world of biomechanical modelling. I enjoyed the challenge of solving a complex multiscale model in a short amount of time, as it allowed me to push myself out of my comfort zone and work with researchers with diverse expertise. The event was well organised and the support offered to us through the competition was extremely valuable. Indeed an awesome opportunity for anyone working in computational modelling!

James Charles

Post-doctoral Research Associate, University of Liverpool, UK

The modelathon provides a perfect environment both learn and improve your knowledge of various modelling techniques. It’s also great fun, and is a tremendous networking opportunity, which is invaluable for early career researchers.

Fred Trommer

PhD Student, University of Sheffield, UK

The Modelathon was a very rewarding experience for me. Developing a multiscale model for knee osteoarthritis in a short amount of time was an interesting challenge. It was also a great way to get an overview of a wide range of aspects of biomechanical modelling, to share skills and connect with other researchers in the field. Throughout the event there was excellent organisation and technical support.

Anneke Verbruggen

PhD Student, National University of Ireland, Galway

Modelathon is a refreshing and exciting event, and I am delighted to have participated. Presentations on day 1 indicated to us the sheer variety of research fields and computational methods involved in addressing a single specific health issue like osteoarthritis. This event was a steep learning curve, including lots of unexpected challenges, but the guidance and expertise from software representatives at the event meant each one of us could progress quickly. To think every team addressed this major clinical problem in such a short amount of time is a great confidence boost for those feeling the clock ticking on their own PhD or postdoc projects. Each team had been designated members of different software backgrounds, introducing many of us to programs we had never before encountered. Experts on the final day helped us realise our project outcomes were not just plausible in silico simulations, but had a real potential for clinical application.

Will Henson

PhD Student, University of Sheffield, UK

Being a participant of the Modelathon was a thoroughly enriching experience. The actual goals of the week contextualised and complemented the research I am currently carrying out, showing the power and impact that modelling of the human musculoskeletal system can have. Also, meeting new people from around the world who are carrying out similar research to me is a brilliant thing and I hope to keep in contact with the few I got to know well.

Overall, I would recommend the Modelathon to anyone who believes they have the right set of skills – as the tasks are no joke!

Marissa Britton

PhD Student, National University of Ireland, Galway

Modelathon 2020 was a fantastic experience. Taking part in the challenge was a unique learning experience. It allowed for us to use our previous knowledge and combine it with the knowledge of others on our team, while also learning from one another and the challenge. It was a thoroughly enjoyable event.