Computing Community Consortium Blog

The goal of the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) is to catalyze the computing research community to debate longer range, more audacious research challenges; to build consensus around research visions; to evolve the most promising visions toward clearly defined initiatives; and to work with the funding organizations to move challenges and visions toward funding initiatives. The purpose of this blog is to provide a more immediate, online mechanism for dissemination of visioning concepts and community discussion/debate about them.

An Interagency Multiscale Modeling Initiative

April 25th, 2011 / in research horizons, resources / by Erwin Gianchandani

Interagency Modeling and Analysis Group (IMAG)The Interagency Multiscale Modeling and Analysis Group (IMAG) — comprising program staff from NIH, NSF, DoE, DoD, NASA, USDA, and the VA — announced earlier this month a new interagency funding opportunity to support the development of multiscale models to accelerate biological, biomedical, behavioral, environmental, and clinical research.  From the official program announcement:

Multiscale models can be designed to integrate diverse data, create testable hypotheses leading to new investigational studies, identify and share gaps in knowledge, uncover biological mechanisms, or make predictions about clinical outcome or intervention effects.  These models can draw on a variety of data sources including relevant physical, environmental, clinical and population data. Ultimately multiscale models and the information derived from their use will enable biomedical, biological, behavioral, environmental and clinical researchers to understand complex biological and behavioral systems in a manner not possible through traditional research methods…


The ultimate goal of the models would be to make realistic scientific predictions to address problems and issues in the environment; in the human body (e.g., to prevent, diagnose and treat the diseases or aberrations in normal development, and/or to predict treatment outcomes); and among individuals, groups, and within populations.


For this FOA specific topics of interest include, but are not limited to, those listed below:


  • addressing compelling biological, biomedical, behavioral, environmental and clinical problems that require multiscale models to bring together different spatial and temporal scales within a specific field
  • next generation multiscale models that integrate between different fields (e.g. cardiovascular and neuroscience) and predict integrated functions
  • novel methods to fuse data-rich and data-poor scales to enable predictive modeling
  • novel methods to fuse biological and/or behavioral processes and mechanisms to model outcomes as a result of various interventions
  • useable and reuseable multiscale models that will be integrated and adopted into model-poor fields (e.g.  tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, drug and gene delivery, preventive interventions)
  • multiscale models strongly coupled with standardized protocols for model-driven data collection
  • implementing virtual clinical trials with multiscale models to predict outcomes
  • problem-driven multiscale models that require high performance computing (see below for available advanced computational resources)
  • model predictions that drive a community of experimentalists towards systematic testing and validation
  • predictive multiscale models that strongly incorporate uncertainty quantification
  • mechanistic multiscale models that bridge to the population level to capture more clinical and biological realism for the population
  • stochastic multiscale models that characterize interactions between individual-level behaviors and group-, market-, or population-level outcomes
  • models to explore underlying mechanisms of individual-, community-, or population-level preventive or therapeutic interventions
  • predictive multiscale models to improve clinical workflow, standard operating procedures, patient-specific modeling for diagnosis and therapy planning

In addition, this FOA seeks to achieve the scientific goals by encouraging highly interactive partnerships that strongly integrate truly diverse expertise to further increase the impact of multiscale models in the broader research and policy community. This list is not complete and is not limited to the following:


a) experimental and modeling expertise, so that the models create testable hypotheses leading to new investigational studies, or

b) mathematical and or statistical expertise with domain-modeling expertise, so that new methods enhance the function of the models, or

c) expertise focused on different spatial or temporal scales, or different experimental and observational scales, or different deterministic and statistics-driven scales, or

d) expertise from mature modeling disciplines with expertise from disciplines with an emerging use of models, or

e) expertise from different biological and behavioral modeling subfields; such as, computational neuroscience, systems biology, physiome research, agent-based modeling, system dynamics, and microsimulation.

Funding — of up to $500K in direct costs per year for a maximum of five years — will be provided in the form of cooperative agreements.

Proposals will be accepted on a continuing basis (the 2011 deadlines are June 17 and Sept. 27) — with letters of intent due 30 days before the deadline. For more details, check out the complete program announcement.  And for more information about the IMAG, click here.

Special issue on multi-scale modeling and simulation

The IMAG also announced this week a special issue on multi-scale modeling and simulation in the Journal of Computational Physics aimed at:

(1) presenting novel computational methods, modeling strategies; and (2) applying these methods to predict integrative physics and physiology that take place from cell-scale to macro-scales of biological systems.


The ultimate goal of this special issue is to advance the development and application of multi-scale methods for the study of biological problems where multi-scale interactions are important.

Letters of intent — including tentative title, authors/affiliations, brief statement of the novel computational method, biological application area (e.g., cardiovascular, immunology, etc.), and brief abstract — are due by e-mail by May 15, 2011.

(Contributed by Erwin Gianchandani, CCC Director)

An Interagency Multiscale Modeling Initiative

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