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Bringing together experimental and computational methods for the study of vascular development

Dr. Miguel O. Bernabeu ( School of Molecular Genetic and Population Health Sciences, The University of Edinburgh )
Despite recent advances in vascular biology, the mechanisms underpinning vascular development remain poorly understood. It is therefore crucial to gain further insight into how complex vascular networks form and which are the key players in this process. The clinical translation of these results holds the key to the improvement of therapies aimed at modulating vascular patterning for the treatment of retinopathies or cancer.

In this talk, I will present work undertaken in collaboration with experimental colleagues in order to develop computational models that allow us to answer biologically relevant questions. To date, we have mainly focused on the development of blood flow models capable of recapitulating perfusion patterns in developing vasculature. These models have already contributed to further our understanding of how blood vessels remodel during development [1-3]. Ongoing work is also focused on the study of vascular remodelling in the context of diabetic retinopathy for the identification of flow-based biomarkers of disease progression.

This multidisciplinary work involves the development of complex computational pipelines, ranging from advanced microscopy and image processing to high performance computing. I will present some of the software tools developed and talk about issues around pipeline deployment and reproducibility.

[1] Bernabeu MO, Franco CA, Jones ML, Nielsen JH, Kruger T, Nash RW, Groen D, Hetherington J, Gerhardt H, and Coveney PV ‚Computer simulations reveal complex distribution of haemodynamic forces in a mouse retina model of angiogenesis‚ Journal of the Royal Society Interface 11(99):20140543, 2014.

[2] Franco CA, Jones ML, Bernabeu MO, Geudens I, Mathivet T., Rosa A, Lopes FM, Lima AP, Ragab A, Collins RT, Phng LK, Coveney PV, and Gerhardt H. Dynamic endothelial rearrangements drive developmental vessel regression‚ PLoS Biology 13(4):e1002125, 2015.

[3] Franco CA, Jones ML, Bernabeu MO, Vion A-C, Fan J, Mathivet T, Ragab A, Yamaguchi TP, Coveney PV, Lang RA, and Gerhardt H. Non-canonical Wnt signalling modulates the endothelial shear stress flow sensor in vascular remodeling. eLIFE (in press), 2016.

Bio: Miguel O. Bernabeu received his DPhil in Computational Biology from the University of Oxford in 2011 and his MSc and BEng in Computer Science from the Universitat Politecnica de Valencia (Spain) in 2005 and 2007. Following a postdoctoral appointment at University College London, he joined The University of Edinburgh as a Chancellor's Fellow at the newly created Centre for Medical Informatics, Usher Institute of Population Health Sciences and Informatics. His research interests include the development of efficient computational methods for modelling and simulation of the cardiovascular system with applications in retinal haemodynamics and vascular development. You can follow him on Twitter at @mobernabeu.

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