Harnessing IT in the Fight

The SARS-Cov-2 tissue simulator enables rapid creation of multiscale models to shed light on how the virus moves through human tissue and how the immune system responds. By modeling different sites of infection, researchers can study “what if” scenarios. The overall goal is to identify new therapies and develop effective treatments.

With a COVID-19 vaccine still not available, this project can help identify interventions that can disrupt and slow the disease in patients, minimize harmful damage, and accelerate our response to a critical international health threat.

IU researcher Paul Macklin created his first model late in the evening of March 25, live tweeting his progress over 12 hours. Within a couple of days, an international coalition had formed, enabling researchers to arrive at potential answers much more quickly than if they were working on their own. By summer 2020, the international team had grown to more than 40 regular contributors across 20-plus institutions and was at work on its fourth version of the simulation tool

Head shot of Paul Macklin

We are building a resource to share best results, estimates, and data. This way, we can pool our expertise and experience to much more rapidly attack COVID-19. We also know SARS-CoV-2 will not be the last novel pathogen or pandemic we will face. After we build this coalition and community resource, it will be available for the next health crisis.

Paul Macklin, associate professor of intelligent systems engineering at IU Bloomington