Sep 6, 2021

IT’IS Receives o²S²PARC Year 5 Award

Four years have passed since we began the exciting endeavor of establishing an online framework for the SPARC community and beyond. In year 5, the IT’IS team will build on the many functionalities already established with the main focus on strengthening and polishing the platform for public release, a framework for establishing control strategies for electroceuticals, and infrastructure to enable users to create and share their own simulators and modules.

IT’IS has received its fifth year of funding for the development of the “Open Platform for Online Simulations for Stimulating Peripheral Activity to Relieve Conditions” (o2S2PARC) as part of the National Institutes of Health Common Fund’s “Stimulating Peripheral Activity to Relieve Conditions” SPARC program. IT’IS is part of the SPARC Data and Resource Center (DRC), a multi-disciplinary team that develops the SPARC data ecosystem. The aim of the program is to transform our understanding of nerve-organ interactions, identify neural targets, and accelerate the development of therapeutic devices capable of modulating electrical activity in the vagus and other nerves to treat disease by adjusting organ function.

o2S2PARC is a unique cloud-based, online-accessible, open, and extendable platform for computational modeling and data analysis. The platform is already in use to host and connect simulations for various SPARC teams to create predictive, multiscale, multi-physics models of modulation sources that act on the peripheral nervous system as access points for modulation of functional responses of organs.

A key strength of o2S2PARC is its cloud-based nature, which provides global access to scalable computational resources. The “Guided Mode” – which was newly established during year 4 of the project and is already being used by several SPARC and non-SPARC teams to implement, e.g., treatment planning tools – allows complex workflows created by modeling experts to be shared in an accessible, step-by-step manner that is suitable for users who have limited modeling experience. In addition, a powerful graphical user interface based modeling-simulation-postprocessing service has been established on the basis of Sim4Life. Other achievements of the fourth year of funding include support for data-based modeling, e.g., based on the use of deep neural networks for artificial intelligence, and a means of sharing interactively explorable data analyses and visualizations. Also during year 4, a comprehensive meta-modeling framework – e.g., for parameter sweeping, sensitivity analysis, uncertainty quantification and propagation, optimization, and model order reduction – that includes model parameterization, parallel execution, databases of parameterized results, a graphical interface, and an application programming interface was implemented. The IT’IS team also contributed to the overarching goal of the DRC by implementing functionality to ensure that SPARC data and models are FAIR compliant – i.e., findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable – as well as reproducible.

During year 5, we will be building on the functionalities established during the first four years of SPARC funding. In particular, we will strengthen the cybersecurity, robustness, and scalability of the platform and polish its usability and functionality in preparation for public release to ensure the optimal user experience. Together with SPARC experts, a framework to establish strategies for control of electroceuticals, including closed-loop as well as model-based control, will be created, and infrastructure will be built to enable users to design and share their own simulators and modules for use by the wider community and integration as interoperable building-blocks in larger pipelines.

We look forward to another thrilling year of whirlwind progress on this cutting-edge project!

Check out the SPARC Portal for more information!