Igor Pivkin
Scientific Computing Group
Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano
Group Webpage

What do we do?

Our research interests at the Scientific Computing Group lie in the area of multiscale/multiphysics modelling and parallel large-scale simulations of biological systems. We focus on the development of new computational models and corresponding numerical methods suitable for the next generation of super computers. We are working on stochastic multiscale modelling of motion, the interaction, deformation and aggregation of cells under physiological flow conditions, biofilm growth, coarse grained molecular dynamics simulations, as well as the modelling of transport processes in healthy and tumour-induced microcirculation.

Highlights 2016

The spleen plays multiple roles in the human body. Among them is the removal of old and altered red blood cells (RBCs), which is achieved by filtering cells through endothelial slits – i.e small micron-sized openings. It was previously observed that people without a spleen have less deformable RBCs, indicating that the spleen may play a role in defining RBC size and shape. We used detailed an RBC model implemented within the Dissipative Particle Dynamics (DPD) simulation framework to study the filter function of the human spleen. Our results demonstrate that the spleen does indeed play a major role in defining the size and shape of healthy human RBCs, thus indicating a new function for a well-known organ. These results offer a better understanding of how the circulatory bottleneck for RBCs in the spleen could affect a variety of acute and chronic disease states arising from hereditary disorders, human cancers and infectious diseases, with implications for therapeutic interventions and drug efficacy assays.

Main publications 2016

  • Pivkin IV et al. Biomechanics of red blood cells in human spleen and consequences for physiology and disease.  PNAS 2016;113(28):7804-7809.
  • Peter EK et al. Coarse kMC-based replica exchange algorithms for the accelerated simulation of protein folding in explicit solvent. Phys Chem Chem Phys 2016;18(18):13052-13065.
  • Peter EK et al. A canonical replica exchange molecular dynamics implementation with normal pressure in each replica. J Chem Phys 2016;145(4):044903.

Our research topics: