Simbios: an NIH national center for physics-based simulation of biological structures

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Abstract

Physics-based simulation provides a powerful framework for understanding biological form and function. Simulations can be used by biologists to study macromolecular assemblies and by clinicians to design treatments for diseases. Simulations help biomedical researchers understand the physical constraints on biological systems as they engineer novel drugs, synthetic tissues, medical devices, and surgical interventions. Although individual biomedical investigators make outstanding contributions to physics-based simulation, the field has been fragmented. Applications are typically limited to a single physical scale, and individual investigators usually must create their own software. These conditions created a major barrier to advancing simulation capabilities. In 2004, we established a National Center for Physics-Based Simulation of Biological Structures (Simbios) to help integrate the field and accelerate biomedical research. In 6 years, Simbios has become a vibrant national center, with collaborators in 16 states and eight countries. Simbios focuses on problems at both the molecular scale and the organismal level, with a long-term goal of uniting these in accurate multiscale simulations.

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