Dear All:
the BioNet event will be held in Brussel next sunday and Monday. Thus,
this will be the last posting of this series. The discussion will continue
during the event, and after that with various follow-up activities we plan
to carry out. W shall keep you posted.



Bionet controversial topic #7: What a biomechanics data repository should
contain in order to be valuable?

From the previous discussions we had on BIOMCH-L it is evident that having
public repositories of research data would be of great usefulness for
biomechanics. Now, we would like to pose two additional questions:
- What a biomechanics data repository should contain in order to be valuable?
- How it should organised? Would it be useful/mandatory to have a single

I would start from a message posted by Paul Ostic, from the Queen's
University, Kingston, Canada, in reply to the discussion thread launched by
Prof. Hatze. He wrote: "I have a grand, and perhaps naive vision. I
believe that the time has arrived to collect all the known data and
accepted anatomical and functional models and incorporate them into a
common framework that would describe and model the entire human
musculoskeletal system. The model should be perpetually maintained and
amended as new findings are accepted by the biomechanics community. Gaps
in understanding will become readily apparent when the whole model is
assembled, and perceived gaps may be solved as soon as all the existing
knowledge in incorporated into a common framework".

The first time I read it I thought it was a really naive suggestion (Paul
will apologise me for this). But it came back in my mind in these days when
we started to talk of the data repository. Maybe a global model is really
too much, but what about a global repository? Again using Paul words it
could contain " the bones, muscles, cartilage, kinematic constraints,
reflex loops, physical properties of muscles and connective tissues, and
might even model the changes in muscle performance as a unction of chemical
concentrations within the body".

Such database would be accessible through the Internet and it would provide
a common repository structure in which all biomechanics research data can
be archived. It would be a multi-body, multi-function and multi-scale
repository. You would start with a generic representation of the human
body, much like those electronic atlases so common today. You would select
a task, say slow level waking. You would see raw marker trajectories, or
an animated body. Click on the thigh and get data on the inertial
properties of that segment and the acceleration for that motion. Select the
femur and access to MRI images, 3D models or FE meshes of that bone, and
maybe the bone stresses predicted for slow level walking. Select the
proximal region and access to micro-CT data of the trabecular structure.
Select a single trabecula and get the results of strength tests done on
isolated trabecule. Combine this with large public domain software
projects aimed to provide tools for further processing data (VTK for
visualisation, Insight for segmentation, Bonemat to derive tissue
properties from volumes, Nauges to interpolate contours, ecc.) and the
picture get really interesting.

Using again Paul Ostic words we have a grand, and perhaps naive vision. Is
it too grand? Is it too naive? Or is this the Grand Challenge that would
provide a quantum leap to biomechanics research?

Considering that this would be a life-long endeavour, once again the
opinion of young fellows, the only ones who may have the chance to see it
done, is particularly welcome.



ps: also the idea of the global model seems to make sense to some of us. I
recently became aware of the Virtual Human Project, which roughly speaking
appears to purse quite similar objectives.

Laboratorio di Tecnologia Medica tel. 39-051-6366865
Istituti Ortopedici Rizzoli fax. 39-051-6366863
via di barbiano 1/10, 40136 - Bologna, Italy

Tiger! Tiger! Burning bright in the forest of the night,
what immortal hand or eye could frame thy fearful symmetry?
Opinions expressed here do not necessarly reflect those of my employer

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