Simula celebrates the end of 2019 with funding for four new research projects

Simula researchers have secured funding for four new projects from the Research Council of Norway, through the FORNY and FRIPRO programs.

Samuel Wall, Chief Research Scientist at SRL, has received funding of NOK 7,9 million for his project "IdentiPhy":

Recent research into human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC) has enabled the development of so-called “heart-on-chip” in vitro models - small lab-grown pieces of cardiac tissue which can be used for controlled, high content testing using human phenotypes. These systems offer promise to revolutionize the way that pharmaceutical companies develop safe and effective drugs. Still, significant challenges remain in how these systems can be effectively deployed into development pipelines. The purpose of the IdentiPhy project is to develop and validate enabling technology that extends systems to predict compound safety risk mechanistically. The technology is based on recent progress in optical measurements using “heart-on-a-chip” microphysiological systems (MPS), layered with a computational framework using a new mathematical formalism to estimate properties of adult cells based on such measurements. Our vision is that through augmenting stem cell tests with computational analysis, we can obtain improved efficiency in drug development pipelines, reducing both cost and time required to bring safe drugs to the market. 

The funding comes from the program FORNY, whose aim is to increase the commercial utilization of results from publicly-funded R&D in Norway. 

Also, three projects have received funding from FRIPRO. FRIPRO is the funding scheme for independent projects and is a national arena that provides financing for basic, ground-breaking projects in all fields of research.

Evrim Ataman, Chief Research Scientist at SimulaMet, received funding of 10,3 million NOK for her project "TrACEr: Time-Aware ConstrainEd Multimodal Data Fusion."

The goal of this project is to develop data mining methods to understand the dynamic behavior of complex systems by turning heterogeneous multi-modal data sets collected from these systems into useful information. We will use the developed methods to understand a challenging system: human metabolome.

"To decipher the functioning of complex systems such as the brain or human metabolome, there is an emerging need to jointly analyze heterogeneous multi-modal data sets and capture physically-valid underlying patterns. That is what we aim for with the multi-modal data mining framework we will develop in this project."

Simon Funke, Senior Research Scientist and Research Director for Scientific Computing received funding of 11,9 million NOK for his project "DataSim: Data-driven Algorithms for Physical Simulations."

The overall ambition of the DataSim project is to develop mathematical algorithms and implementations of next-generation physical simulation models that exploit the machine learning techniques. The secondary objective is to educate a new generation of researchers working on the intersection of machine learning and scientific computing.

"The availability of vast amounts of sensor data brings exciting new possibilities to improve physical simulations models. The project will exploit these possibilities by bringing the successes of machine learning technologies into the world of physical computer simulations. We are grateful that the RCN supports this project, which will develop both generic new algorithms as well as target application areas, including the use of IoT sensors to improve weather forecasts"

And finally, Hermenegild Arevalo, Senior Research Scientist and Head of the Computational Physiology Department, received funding of 7,9 million NOK for the project "Personalized Virtual Heart Models for Diagnosis and Treatment Planning in Patients with Heart Failure":

The objective of MyVirtualHF is to develop the use of computational cardiac modeling as a tool that can effectively and non-invasively stratify risk to sudden cardiac death among patients with non-ischemic heart failure. Additionally, the simulations performed in the study will provide critical mechanistic insight into how lethal arrhythmias arise in non-ischemic heart failure patients 

“This project will continue the advancement of computer modeling as a novel tool that doctors can use to save and improve patient’s lives." 

Arevalo was granted the funding through the program "Unge Forskertalenter" (English) "Young Researcher Talent"). The program is intended for researchers who are at an early stage in their careers and who have demonstrated the ability to conduct research of high scientific quality.