Barcelona VPH Summer School 2018

June 18th - 22nd, 2018

The 3rd VPH Summer School will be held in Barcelona, Spain, on June 18-22, 2018. This 3rd edition will focus on data integration, model verification and validation. Leave your e-mail here to get to know the updates in the program.

The VPH Summer School series is co-organized by the Barcelona MedTech - Universitat Pompeu Fabra and by the Virtual Physiological Human Institute. It aims to provide junior engineers and medical doctors with a complete overview of state-of-the-art VPH research, following a complete pipeline from basic science and clinical needs, to model application.The Summer School has the support of the Marie Curie ITN CardioFunXion and the collaboration of CompBioMed Centre of Excellence in Computational Biomedicine (talks and hands-on) and the Chair UPF-QUAES: Computational Technologies for health






This Summer School provides a thorough overview and hands-on experience in state-of-the-art Virtual Physiological Human (VPH) research. The key concepts of this methodological and technological framework will be presented using illustrative cases and enriched with hands-on analysis under supervision of the experts.

The Summer School includes a poster session with a best poster award (sponsored by Simula last year), and a hands-on award provided by Chair QUAES-UPF.

This 3rd edition will focus on data integration, model verification and validation. As usual in the VPH Summer School series, the days are split into:

1) Morning sessions that welcome a total of 15 international keynote speakers 

2) Afternoon sessions dedicated to the practical development of models, execution of simulations and result analyses in the context of a specific application. Attendees are guided by senior researchers through the different steps of problem definition, model design, technical implementation, code execution and interpretation of simulations results.

Program Program


Registration fees:

  • VPHi /ESB members: 100 € 
  • VPHi /ESB non-members:
    • Students early bird (until 15/05/2018): 100 € (includes a 1-year VPHi Student Membership) – If you want to also become an ESB Student member (20 € /year) you can additionally fill in this form (eligibility will be checked previous to payment)
    • Students  late registration: 150 €
    • Technicians early bird (until 15/05/2018): 100 
    • Technicians late registration: 150 €
    • Regular early bird (until 15/05/2018): 200 €
    • Regular late registration: 250 €

Day 1

Pathophysiology. Basic Science and Clinical Understanding

Special focus 3rd Edition: Biological and clinical problems that require collecting, handling and interpreting large amounts of data

Keynote speaker 1 (9:30h - 11:00h). Using omics to understand common problems in medicine: Chronic pain

Frances Williams (King's College London / Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust)

Modern medicine is currently ill equipped to deal with the highly prevalent symptom of chronic pain. Seen in all medical specialties, chronic pain syndromes are poorly understood. They have, however, been shown to have a heritable basis. The use of omic data derived from identical and non-identical same sex twins allows a greater understanding of the role of genetic and environmental factors in chronic pain conditions.

Chronic widespread musculoskeletal pain (CWP) and fibromyalgia are associated with a number of other traits such as anxiety and depression, pain catastrophizing and other medical and psychological diagnoses. In this talk the role of genetics in CWP will be discussed and the results of recent large scale epidemiological studies will be covered. Particular reference will be made to new work exploring the of association of CWP with cardiovascular disease.

Short bio

I have been at King’s College London for 10 years and my position allows me to combine the study of chronic pain with the practice of musculoskeletal medicine. In particular, I run clinics in General Rheumatology and Metabolic bone disease. I also have an interest in occupational conditions and hold a monthly clinic for Musicians and Performing Artists with musculoskeletal complaints, which is unique in the UK and is funded by the NHS.

The aim of my group is to understand better the pathogenic processes underlying common complex traits. In particular we focus on those presenting to rheumatology such as chronic widespread pain and chronic back pain. The study of a broad range of omics, in isolation and in combination, will reveal more about the pathways involved in chronic pain, in particular the transition from acute to chronic pain. I lead the EU FP7 project PainOmics which examines biomarkers of the transition from acute to chronic low back pain. I am also contributing to several CHARGE consortium efforts to identify genetic variants contributing to back pain and age related hearing impairment.

I am married with 3 children and in my spare time I enjoy walking the dog, running and going to the opera.

Talk 1 (11:30-12:30)


Gudrun Antoons (Maastricht University)


Talk 2 (12:30-13:30)

Pending confirmation



Presentation of sponsors and supporters

Presentation of VPHI, ESB and Chair UPF-QUAES (13:30 - 13:45)

Presentation Master Computational Biomedical Engineering (14:45 - 14:55)

Day 2

Input measurements

Acquisition processing, quantification

Special focus 3rd Edition: Quality, heterogeneity, collection, accessibility and treatment of data


Keynote speaker 1 (9:30h - 11:00h)


Alfonso Valencia (Barcelona Supercomputing Center)


Talk 1 (11:30-12:30)

Leonidas Alexopoulos (National Technical University of Athens)

Talk 2 (12:30-13:30). Concepts and tools from nonlinear dynamics: Helpful to understand and diagnose epilepsy?

Ralph Andrzejak (DTIC, Universitat Pompeu Fabra)

Short bio

Ralph Gregor Andrzejak was born in Germany (1970) and studied physics at the University Bonn, Germany. He wrote his Diploma (1997) and PhD thesis in physics (2001). During these theses he was member of the Neurophysics group of K. Lehnertz and C.E. Elger (Department of Physics and Department of Epileptology, University Bonn, Germany). During his PhD he spent a research stay at the Neurodynamics research group of S.J. Schiff at the George Mason University, Fairfax, USA (1999). After his PhD he carried out a first postdoc with the Complex Systems research group of P. Grassberger at the Research Centre Jülich, Germany (2002-2004). Awarded with a Feodor Lynen-fellowship from the German Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation, he carried out a second postdoc with the Computational Neuroscience group headed by G. Deco (2005-2006) at the Department of Information and Communication Technologies, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona. Subsequently, he successfully carried out a tenure-track appointment at this Department granted by the Spanish Ramón y Cajal program (2007-2011). Since 2011, he is an associate professor at the Department of Information and Communication Technologies, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona.

A total of 64 publications of Ralph G. Andrzejak are indexed in the ISI Web of Science. These are 45 journal articles published in leading journals of physics, neuroscience, neurology, and engineering as well as 17 conference contributions and 2 editorial articles. In the ISI-Web of Science this work receives more than 3200 citations (h-index: 26; ISI Researcher ID: H-7923-2012). In Google Scholar the publications of Dr. Andrzejak reach more than 5800 citations (h-index: 31). Dr. Andrzejak has made more than 50 conference presentations, in the majority talks. He was furthermore co-author of some 60 conference talks and posters. Altogether, his work was presented at 73 conferences in 18 different countries. In addition to his conference talks, Dr. Andrzejak gave more than 30 invited scientific seminars or tutorial lectures at international universities, research institutions, and international advanced schools.

Day 3

Multiphysics / Multiscale Models

Organ, cell, molecular

Special focus 3rd Edition: Integration of data for creation and parametrization of models at different scales and across the scales


Keynote speaker 1 (9:30h - 11:00h)


Hans van Oosterwyck (KU Leuven)

Talk 1 (11:30-12:30)

Laura Furlong (Universitat Pompeu Fabra / CompBioMed)

Talk 2 (12:30-13:30).A thorough analysis of the physiology of coronary arteries: the role of the basal tone and residual stress

Jean Louis Martiel (Univ. Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, CHU Grenoble Alpes, INSERM)


We analyse the mechanics of coronary arteries to understand the existence of residual mechanical stress, its consequences for the physiological functioning of the artery and its role in driving the pathological evolution of the wall (formation of plaques).

Arteries are made of three layers, namely, the intima (a unicellular layer), the media and the adventitia. Here, we assume that the intima and the media do form a unique layer with similar mechanical properties; from now on we refer to this intima-media layer as the media. In physiological conditions, the active smooth muscle cells in the media develop an active stress that vasodilates or constricts the artery. Conversely, during one cardiac cycle, the artery wall is subjected to blood pressure, in the range 80 − 120 mmHg (mean at 100 mmHg), that tends to radially expand the tube. Classically, these two antagonist responses of the artery to stress are captured by the compliance, Cp, and the vasodilatation ratio, Rt, variables. These variables measure, respectively, the relative variation of the lumen area during one cardiac cycle (area at diastolic pressure minus area at systolic pressure divided by the pressure change times the area at systolic pressure) and the ratio of the lumen area without and with the basal muscle tone developed in the media. Additionally, the artery wall at rest (no activation, no pressure) is not stress free, as shown in experiments where a longitudinally cut artery tube opens spontaneously, without external loading, or, when the three layers of an open tube are separated.

In this paper, we show how a correct prediction of Cp and Rt, in combination with the wall residual stress and the basal tone in the media, is a crucial condition in modeling healthy and pathological arteries. To model arteries, we start from

• the geometrical characterization of arterial segments isolated from the heart (internal and external radii and the radius at the media-adventitia transition),

• the existence of a stress free configuration for the whole wall, characterized by an opening angle denoted α,

• the existence of an energy density function, W, for arteries (one function per layer), that yields the constitutive relation between the Cauchy stress and the deformation.

We derived the kinematics of the deformation from the stress free artery configuration, in which the there layers are separated, to the open configuration, which corresponds to the longitudinally cut artery segment characterized by a unique opening angle α. Also, we considered the deformation from the stress-free configuration to the closed tube at rest (no pressure loading, no active stress in the media). By solving the mechanical equilibrium equations, we were able to reconstruct the unknown stress-free configuration from the opening angle α and the radii of the resting configuration. In a second step, we determined the unknown smooth muscle cells tension (T0, activity in the media) and the in situ axial stretch λ∗, so that both parameters Cp and Rt have the physiological values measured in vivo.

In healthy arteries, the constrains to satisfy both Cp and Rt are compatible with a quasi-uniform circumferential Cauchy stress distribution, as already found in other studies. Moreover, our model predicts that, in this physiological state, the elastic energy stored in the wall deformation (measured with respect to the stress-free configuration) is at a minimum. By analyzing the role of the opening angle α, we also predicted that Cp and Rt clearly differ from their physiological value, hereby showing the importance of the residual stress in the artery dynamics. For example, in the absence of residual stress (α = 0), the artery response to pressure or activity change is greatly altered. Finally, we used the energy functions that were determined for pathological arteries to understand how the mechanical changes of both the media and the adventitia affect the artery performance.

Day 4

Computational Aspects

Implementation, validation, coupling

Special focus 3rd Edition: Sensitivity analyses, Stochastic simulations, model verification, direct and indirect validation


Keynote speaker 1 (9:30h - 11:00h). Numerical methods for the simulation of the heart function


Alfio Quarteroni (Politecnico di Milano / EPFL, Lausanne - honorary professor)

Numerical methods for the simulation of the heart function

Mathematical models based on first principles allow the description of the blood motion in the human circulatory system, as well as the interaction between electrical, mechanical and fluid-dynamical processes occurring in the heart. This is a classical environment where multi-physics processes have to be addressed.

Appropriate numerical strategies can be devised to allow for an effective description of the fluid in large and medium size arteries, the analysis of physiological and pathological conditions, and the simulation, control and shape optimization of assisted devices or surgical prostheses.

This presentation will address some of these issues and a few representative applications of clinical interest.

Short bio

Alfio Quarteroni is Honorary Professor of Mathematics at the EPFL, Lausanne  and Professor of Numerical Analysis at the Politecnico di Milano since 1989.

He is member of the Italian Academy of Science, the European Academy of Science, and the Academia Europaea.

He got the NASA Group Achievement Award for the pioneering work in Computational Fluid Dynamics in 1992, the International Galileo Galilei prize for Sciences 2015, thedoctorate Honoris Causa in Naval Engineering from University of Trieste, 2003; he is the Recipient of the Galileian Chair from the Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa, Italy ,2001,

He is author of 22 books, editor of 5 books, author of more than 300 research papers.

His research interests concern Mathematical Modeling, Numerical Analysis, Scientific Computing, and Application to: fluid mechanics, geophysics, medicine and the improvement of sports performance. His Group has carried out the mathematical simulation for the optimisation of performances of the Alinghi yacht, the winner of two editions (2003 and 2007) of the America’s Cup.


Talk 1 (11:30-12:30). Understanding heart function through combined computational, experimental and clinical research


Esther Pueyo (University of Zaragoza / Biomedical Research Networking Centre on Bioengineering, Biomaterials and Nanomedicine (CIBER-BBN).

Short bio

Esther Pueyo is Associate Professor at the University of Zaragoza and Senior Research Scientist at the Biomedical Research Networking Centre on Bioengineering, Biomaterials and Nanomedicine (CIBER-BBN). She has established research experience in biomedical signal processing, the field where she pursued her PhD at the University of Zaragoza, and in electrophysiological modeling and simulation, after having completed a three-year postdoctoral period at the University of Oxford (UK). Esther Pueyo has additionally worked in the areas of cardiology and experimental physiology during research visits and in collaborations with different institutions in Spain, UK, Sweden, Hungary and the United States. Her investigations involve active collaborations with a wide network of research groups including the University of Oxford, University College London, University of Szeged, University of Debrecen and FDA, among others.

Esther Pueyo has participated as Principal Investigator (PI) or Collaborator in a large number of international, European, national and regional research projects. She is currently PI of the ERC Starting Grant project MODELAGE, funded with 1.5 M€, and is / has been PI of 7 other grants funded by regional, national and international agencies. She has and is actively participating in 3 projects led by the European Space Agency, 2 Marie Curie Innovative Training Networks under H2020 EU funding and was invited to join the Oxford team to contribute to the EU-funded FP7 project PREDiCT. She has also participated in more than 28 other projects, with broad international collaborations.

Esther Pueyo has authored/co-authored over 100 peer-reviewed publications, including 52 full articles in high-impact journals, 12 journal abstracts and 38 conference papers. More than 75% of her publications are in the top third of JCR ranking. She regularly delivers invited talks in scientific conferences and symposiums, is a reviewer for twenty different JCR journals, Editorial Board member of Physiological Measurement and Plos One as well as Associate Editor of Frontiers in Physiology. She has supervised / is supervising 6 postdoctoral researchers and 9 PhD students, three of the latter jointly with FDA (USA), University of Oxford (UK) and Politecnico di Milano (Italy). She has additionally supervised 4 Master Theses, 7 Graduate Theses and 3 Industrial Fellowships.

Talk 2 (12:30-13:30)


Liesbet Geris (University of Liége)

Short bio

Liesbet Geris (DOB 04.06.1979) is Professor in Biomechanics and Computational Tissue Engineering at the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering at the university of Liège and Associate Professor at the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the KU Leuven, Belgium. From the KU Leuven, she received her MSc degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2002 and her PhD degree in Engineering in 2007, both summa cum laude. In 2007 she worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre of Mathematical Biology of Oxford University.
Her research interests encompass the mathematical modeling of bone regeneration during fracture healing, implant osseointegration and tissue engineering applications. The phenomena described in these mathematical models reach from the tissue level, over the cell level, down to the molecular level. She works in close collaboration with experimental and clinical researchers from the university hospitals Leuven, focusing on the development of mathematical models of impaired healing situations and the in silico design of novel treatment strategies. She is scientific coordinator of Prometheus, the skeletal tissue engineering division of the KU Leuven. Her research is financed by European, regional and university funding (up to date 3.5 M€ as PI and co-PI). In 2011 she was awarded an ERC starting grant to pursue her research.

Day 5


Understanding decision-support therapy support

Special focus 3rd Edition: Interpretable machine learning, metamodeling, success and failure stories


Keynote speaker 1 (9:30h - 11:00h). Digging into the information of the diversity of the human genome: from the reconstruction of human origins to the adaptation to the environment.


Jaume Bertranpetit (Universitat Pompeu Fabra)

Short bio:

Professor of Biology at the Pompeu Fabra University (Barcelona). Group leader in the Evolutionary Biology and Complex Systems Program in this University. Promoter of the Institute for Evolutionary Biology, IBE (UPF-CSIC). His research field is in different aspects on the study of the human genome variation and diversity: human population genetics, molecular evolution, comparative genomics and the interaction between human evolutionary biology and other fields, including medicine, genetic of complex diseases, statistical genetics and others. Recent publications are mainly on the footprint of natural selection in the human genome and the emerging field of Evolutionary Systems Biology, with the relationship of molecular networks and adaptation in genome-wide perspective. He has published over 350 research papers, most of them since his major dedication to genome studies (since 1992). Director of ICREA (Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats) till 2015.

Talk 1 (11:30-12:30)

Juan Carlos Triviño (Sistemas Genómicos)

Talk 2 (12:30-13:30)

Rafael Sebastián (Universitat de València)

Presentation of awards (16:30 - 17:00)

Best Poster Award 

Best Hands-on Award by Chair UPF-QUAES

Hands-on sessions (participants to select one)