Discrete element framework for modelling extracellular matrix, deformable cells and subcellular components


In our presentation, a new framework for modelling biological systems based on discrete particles. Collections of discrete particles are employed to represent cell components (e.g. cell membranes, cell cytoskeleton, cell nucleus) and extracellular matrix (e.g. collagen). Virtual interactions between particles can be used to represent many physical interaction types (e.g. cell-cell adhesion via cadherins, integrin basement membrane attachment, cytoskeletal mechanical properties). Particles may be given the capacity to change their properties and behaviours in response to changes in the cellular microenvironment (e.g., in response to cell-cell signalling or mechanical loadings). Each particle is in effect and ‘agent’, meaning that the agent can sense local environmental information and respond according to pre-determined or stochastic logical operators. After presenting this framework we show some initial examples demonstrating the capabilities of the modelling framework in two spatial dimensions Examples are given of: 1. Mechanical calibration of a single cell and nucleus data from a plate load test 2. Changes in a single cell shape with changing cell-basement membrane adhesion 3. Effect on epithelial layer of changing cell-cell (e.g. cadherin) and cell-basement membrane adhesion 4. Deformation of an epithelial sheet (comprising the stroma, collagen and mucus), including buckling and columnar-to-squamous transitions. These examples illustrate how the modeling framework allows enormous flexibility for representing different tissues, and we argue this offers a more intuitive approach than perhaps offered by a traditional continuum approaches. As such, we believe the discrete modelling framework will allow biologists and bioengineers to explore the behaviour of tissue systems in a computational laboratory.


Dr. Kelvin WONG
The University of Western Australia

Date & Time

27 Sep 2016 (Tuesday) 10:00 - 11:00


E11-1012 (University of Macau)

Organized by

Department of Computer and Information Science


Kelvin Kian Loong Wong was born in Singapore in 1976. Dr Kelvin Wong has more than 10 years of medical imaging, computational hemodynamics and simulation modelling experience. He obtained a BEng (Hons, 2001) in Mechanical and Production Engineering from Nanyang Technological University, a MAIT (2003) in Applied Information Technology from The University of Sydney, followed by a PhD in Electrical and Electronic Engineering (2009) from The University of Adelaide. From 2006 to 2009, he was doing research work on medical imaging and cardiac flow analysis. Since 2009 to now, he was involved in computational fluid and solid dynamics. In 2013, he began working on discrete element method with applications in nuclear reactor design, first at Tsinghua University, and later in biological systems at The University of Western Australia.

Dr Wong was the originator of the spatial game moment concept, in which multi-objective multi-constraint combinatorial optimisation problems can be treated as decision-making problems in the game theoretical sense, and solved with high efficiency. In addition, he is the first author of the book "Methods in Research and Development of Biomedical Devices", and a co-author of a second book "Computational Hemodynamics – Theory, Modelling and Applications". He has served as associate editors and as guest editors for journals in the area of biomedical engineering and science. His publications now span a diverse range of topics in the medical science and engineering field.