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  • The Inria's Research Teams produce an annual Activity Report presenting their activities and their results of the year. These reports include the team members, the scientific program, the software developed by the team and the new results of the year. The report also describes the grants, contracts and the activities of dissemination and teaching. Finally, the report gives the list of publications of the year.

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Section: Overall Objectives

Evolution of research direction during the last evaluation

Reminder of the objectives given for the last evaluation

The aim of this project is the development of modern tools for multi-scale modeling in biological phenomena. During the period 2014-2017, the objectives we had fixed were to develop modern tools for multi-scale modeling of biological phenomena, as detailed hereafter:

  1. Multi-scale modeling of erythropoiesis, the process of red blood cell production, in order to describe normal, stress, and pathological erythropoiesis, using mathematical and computational models. This led to:

  2. The modeling of hemoglobin instability in dialysis patients: Thomas Lepoutre has been progressively taking part in this theme through a collaboration with P. Kim (University of Sydney, Australia);

  3. Multi-scale modeling of the CD8 T cell immune response, in order to develop a predictive model of the CD8 T cell response, by confronting the model at different stages to in vivo-acquired experimental data;

  4. Population dynamics modeling, with the aim to develop general mathematical tools to study them. The main tools we were using were structured equations, in which the cell population is endowed with relevant structures, or traits. We identified limitations in using these formalisms, this is why we started developing multi-scale approaches;

  5. Modeling of Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) treatment, using ordinary differential equations models. Our team had already developed a first model of mutant leukemic cells being resistant to chemotherapy. A next step would be to identify the parameters using experimental data;

  6. Multi-scale modeling carried out on the basis of hybrid discrete-continuous models, where dissipative particle dynamics (DPD) are used in order to describe individual cells and relatively small cell populations, partial differential equations (PDE) are used to describe concentrations of bio-chemical substances in the extracellular matrix, and ordinary differential equations for intracellular regulatory networks (Figure 1). An emphasis would be made on developing codes that are both flexible and powerful enough to implement variants of the model, perform simulations, produce desired outputs, and provide tools for analysis; to do so:

  7. We planned to contribute to a recent project named chronos, whose code (written in C++) represents heterogeneous populations of individual cells evolving in time and interacting physically and biochemically, and the objective is to make the code flexible enough to implement different formalisms within the same model, so that different components of the model can be represented in the most appropriate way;

  8. Partial differential equations (PDE) analysis, with a focus on reaction-diffusion equations, transport equations (hyperbolic PDEs) in which the structure can be age, maturity, protein concentration, etc., with particular cases where transport equations are reduced to delay differential equations (DDE).

Comments on these objectives over the evaluation period

We have had strong contributions to objectives 1, 3, 4, 5, and consequently to objective 6, as well as to objective 8, as mentioned in previous sections. These contributions represented the core of the team's research activity over the evaluation period, as stressed by our publications. It is however noticeable that multi-scale modeling of the immune response and of pathological hematopoiesis (leukemia) has come to represent a proportionally more important part of our activity.

Objective 2 has been cancelled few months after the previous evaluation, following meetings with clinicians who did not show any particular interest in our approaches. The modeling of chronic myeloid leukemia instead took a bigger part of the team's research activity, both project being at the time coordinated by Thomas Lepoutre.

Objective 7 has been pursued, the project chronos evolved to a better defined project SiMuScale that is currently being developed and aims at structuring the team's activity and providing a simulation platform that could be adapted to various biological questions necessitating multi-scale modeling.

Objectives for the next four years

The main objectives for the next four years are to continue to improve the 3 previous points: 1) Mathematical and computational modeling for cell population dynamics; 2) Multi-scale modeling of hematopoiesis and leukemia; 3) Multi-scale modeling of the immune response. In addition, we will pursue our effort to develop a simulation platform for multi-scale models (SiMuScale) and we intend to develop the use of mixed effect models and other statistical approaches to deal with the challenges offered by modern biology, in particular the generation of single cell data.