Professor Faculty of Engineering Science, University of Liège & KU Leuven
Lecture: Digital twins in tissue engineering: from bench to bedside via the computer
Digital Twin’ is a classical engineering concept referring to a virtual representation of a physical object or system across its lifecycle. The modeling technology used to create such a digital twin ranges from fully mechanistic, multiphysics and multiscale to empiric data-driven, depending on the context in which it is used. For medical devices these digital twins have evolved to the point that they can be reliably used to generate digital evidence for regulatory submissions. For Tissue Engineered (TE) products, however, this is not yet the case. In our research group we are developing digital twins of various steps of the TE pipeline. In this lecture I will discuss a number of digital twins we have developed in the context of skeletal TE. Models focusing on the cellular part of the TE product look into predicting and optimizing (patient-specific) proliferation and differentiation of patient-derived stromal cells. Biomaterial models assist in the design and printing of 3D scaffolds. The digital twin of an in-house developed perfusion bioreactor system allows to interpret, interpolate and enhance the in-line sensor read-outs. Finally, models of the in vivo processes focus on understanding the biological complexity and predicting effects of therapeutic strategies in the patient. These examples will demonstrate how digital twins in TE contribute to making the bridge between in vitro and in vivo processes and thereby assist in the translation from the laboratory to the patient.
Liesbet Geris is Collen-Francqui Research Professor in Biomechanics and Computational Tissue Engineering at the University of Liège and the KU Leuven in Belgium. Her research focusses on the multi-scale and multi-physics modeling of biological processes. Together with her team and their clinical and industrial collaborators, she uses these models to investigate the etiology of non-healing fractures, to design in silico potential cell-based treatment strategies and to optimize manufacturing processes of these tissue engineering constructs. Liesbet is scientific coordinator of the Prometheus platform for Skeletal Tissue Engineering (50+ researchers). She has edited several books on computational modeling and tissue engineering. She has received 2 prestigious ERC grants (starting in 2011 and consolidator in 2017) to finance her research and has received a number of young investigator and research awards. She is a former member and chair of the Young Academy of Belgium (Flanders) and member of the strategic alliance committee of the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Society. She is the current executive director of the Virtual Physiological Human Institute and in that capacity she advocates the use of in silico modeling in healthcare through liaising with the clinical community, the European Commission and Parliament, regulatory agencies (EMA, FDA) and various other stakeholders. Besides her research work, she often gives public lectures on the challenges of interdisciplinary in research, women in academia and digital healthcare.