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Virtual Human Project
R. C. Ward, K. L. Kruse, G. O. Allgood, L. M. Hively, K. N. Fischer,
N. B. Munro and C. E. Easterly
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Oak Ridge, TN 37831-6418
This paper describes the development of a comprehensive human modeling environment, the Virtual Human, which will be
used initially to model the human respiratory system for purposes of predicting pulmonary disease or injury using lung
sounds. The details of the computational environment, including the development of a Virtual Human Thorax, a database
for storing models, model parameters, and experimental data, and a Virtual Human web interface are outlined. Preliminary
progress in developing this environment will be presented. A separate paper at the conference describes the modeling of
sound generation using computational fluid dynamics and the modeling of sound propagation in the human respiratory
Keywords: problem solving environment, extensible markup language, physiological model, non-uniform rational B-
splines, lung sounds, respiratory system
The opportunity to develop a comprehensive human modeling environment has never been more opportune, given the tremendous
advances in computation and the ever-increasing information revealed about the human and other animal species through various
biological research efforts. In light of these circumstances, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has initiated the development of
a human simulation tool, the Virtual Human (VH). VH will be a research/testing environment having an integrated system
of biophysical and other models, data and advanced computational algorithms coupled with a computational (engineering)
solid-body model of the anatomy. VH will have a World-Wide Web (web)-based interface for easy, rapid access from several
points of entry. VH will serve as a platform for national and international users from governments, academia, and industry
to investigate the widest range of human biological and physical responses to stimuli, be they biological, chemical, or
physical. This effort goes far beyond the visualization of anatomy to incorporate physics, such as mechanical and electrical
tissue properties, and biology from physiology to biochemical information, into the platform so that responses to varied
stimuli can be predicted mechanistically and results viewed three-dimensionally.
The VH will provide multiple new capabilities to both military and civilian sectors. For example, VH will provide the
capability of evaluating the effectiveness and safety levels for non-lethal technologies and the effectiveness of advanced
clothing and armor. VH will also provide the ability to simulate training scenarios involving new equipment and methods
and the capability of testing vehicle designs for safety. In conjunction with a time history of telemetered medical data, VH
will provide assistance in emergency medical procedures and triage. Biomedical applications might include prosthesis
design, evaluation of microgravity effects, personal medical informatics for diagnosis, patient education, and therapeutics
selection. Use of the Virtual Human will minimize the need for human subjects being involved in testing and also reduce
the need for animal studies.
The initial effort has focused on development of an integrated respiratory system model within the framework of the VH. The goal
is to develop a VH Respiratory System (VHRS) that can be used to predict pulmonary diseases or injuries from lung sounds. First
the propagation and attenuation of lung sounds in the thorax will be modeled using known sound sources and a VH thorax (VHT)
we have developed. Then we will use computational fluid dynamic methods to model the generation of lung sounds. Combining the
generation of lung sounds with the propagation and attenuation, we will predict injury and disease states with emphasis on
pneumothorax. Auditory recordings of breath sounds available to the team will be used to validate the integrated respiratory system
model. The respiratory system model, part of the VH distributed problem solving environment, will require the establishment of a
computational grid, where terascale computational and informational resources will be utilized to solve for the complex vortex flow
that gives rise to lung sounds.
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Ward, RD. Virtual Human Project, article, June 12, 2001; Tennessee. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc724876/m1/1/: accessed March 21, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.