New Biomedical Digital Learning Center Launched in Partnership with Dassault Systèmes

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By Simon Morrow

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Natacha DePaola, professor of biomedical engineering, has launched the Illinois Tech Digital Medical Engineering and Technology (IDMET) Research and Education Center with a mission to develop new technologies for diagnosing, treating, and managing human diseases. As the center’s director, DePaola is training Illinois Tech students to utilize advanced digital tools for life science applications.  

“Today medicine and health care are driven by technological advances,” she says. “We have the combination of the physical, biological, and now digital worlds creating a new level of complexity.”

Part of IDMET’s mission is fostering relationships between academia and industry, and software company Dassault Systèmes is a founding partner and sponsor of IDMET.  

Through this partnership, IDMET has developed several research and education projects using the Dassault Systèmes’s 3DEXPERIENCE platform. 3DEXPERIENCE integrates multiple state-of-the-art digital tools supporting the creation of 3D models, simulations, product development, and collaborative project management. IDMET is the first 3DEXPERIENCE Education Center of Excellence in the Life Sciences to be established in the United States. “We need a workforce that can be equipped to really address these complexities that the Fourth Industrial Revolution has brought, and a key element for success is proficiency in the use of advanced digital tools,” says DePaola.

IDMET is working on components of the Virtual Human Twin, a project designed to use digital tools to advance personalized medicine by simulating the outcome of medical treatments. Dassault Systèmes has already created a Living Heart, and now IDMET is using 3DEXPERIENCE to contribute to the Living Brain project utilizing the Illinois Tech Human Brain Atlas developed by Konstantinos Arfanakis, professor of biomedical engineering. With the onset of COVID-19, IDMET has also started work on the Living Lung. In collaboration with the Dassault Systèmes Edu Hub team, IDMET is developing educational materials to demonstrate the use of digital tools to study the respiratory system and explore assisted ventilation in humans. 

Biomedical engineering faculty have incorporated 3DEXPERIENCE projects into their courses at all levels. As an introduction to the software, senior lecturers Promila Dhar and Bonnie Haferkamp had students design and model a contact lens. In R. A. Pritzker Professor of Biomedical Engineering John Georgiadis’s graduate course, students used 3DEXPERIENCE to model human lung tissue and run simulations of the COVID-19 virus’ adhesion dynamics as it interacted with the tissue.

IDMET’s education component will help Illinois Tech students gain competitive skills for entering industry. IDMET, which was officially announced in October 2020, has already trained more than 250 students and faculty on the use of 3DEXPERIENCE. Through its partnership with Dassault Systèmes, IDMET provides free access to 3DEXPERIENCE for all trained users for their entire time at Illinois Tech. 

The IDMET center is located on Mies Campus at Illinois Tech.