The 9th International Conference on Modelling in Medicine and Biology has recently taken place in Riga, Latvia, organised by the Wessex Institute of Technology of the UK, in collaboration with Riga Technical University, Riga Stradins University and the Arabian Gulf University, Bahrain.
The co-chairmen were Professor Roustem Miftahof from the Arabian Gulf University, Professor Ivar Knets from the Riga Technical University, Professor Maija Eglite from Riga Stradins University and Professor Carlos Brebbia from the Wessex Institute of Technology.
The conference papers dealt with the development of computational tools for the solution of medical and biological problems. The use of mathematical ideas, models and techniques is rapidly growing and is gaining prominence through the biosciences. The field of computational biology emerged from the need to integrate them. Applied mathematicians and bioengineers working alongside bioscientists provide a quantitative description to intricate processes at the subcellular, cellular and tissue levels and integrate them in “viable” models. Such models uphold gnostic properties, offer an invaluable insight into hidden and experimentally inaccessible mechanisms of organ function and allow the researcher to capture the essence of dynamic interactions within it.
Studies were presented on the solution of physiological processes and the very important case of the simulation of cardiovascular systems. One of the most successful areas of bioengineering has been biomechanics and orthopaedics, which are topics studied in several of the papers contained in the volume. The conference also covered the types of data acquisition and analysis.
The conference included a Panel discussion on Environmental Changes in Health, chaired by Professor Roustem Miftahof and moderated by Professor Carlos Brebbia. The panel comprised Professor Alistair Macpherson of Lehigh University, Professor Matthew Hyre of Northwestern University, USA and Professor Eric Suuberg of Brown University, USA.
The panel discussed some interesting problems affecting human health today, including the lack of exercise and sedentary ways of life. Prevention plays a major role as well as the amount of contaminants that are safe. They discussed how accurate are the tests carried out on animals to decide toxicological effects. Many medications are not sufficiently safe from the point of view of long-term effects and their whole range of applications. The general distribution of research funds could be open to question as this system will not support ideas that are totally original being based on the peer review system. Too many vested interests, commercial and scientific, are stopping invention.
The current system for screening chemicals is not sufficient for the multitude and diversity of new products coming into the market. The point was made that pollution is directly related to consumption and what we are now doing is exporting the pollution to developing parts of the world.
A major environmental problem is stress, followed by the air we breathe and the water we drink, all man-made pollution factors. The final major factor is the food we eat which becomes part of our body. These are the major negative factors for Human Environmental Health.
The problem is how to consolidate them with our wish to have an improved standard of life and longevity. It is important to ask ourselves what effects our current development will have in the future, with problems such as genetically modified food. We still do not fully understand the effects of widely prescribed drugs, many of which have very limited benefits.
The panel also commented on the effect of antibiotics and the resistance we are building to them. It is difficult to resolve this problem due to their widespread use and abuse. They are giving rise to allergies and allergic reactions.