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Computer Modelling of Aortas and Personalised Treatment: The PIONEER Programme

Computer Modelling of Aortas and Personalised Treatment: The PIONEER Programme

At UCL, a major research programme focuses on 'Engineering the Future of Aortic Surgery'. We support this with patient partnership. We made the UCL research the centrepiece of our national conference, AD Awareness Day UK 2022.

Researchers at University College London and the Wellcome/EPSRC Centre for Interventional and Surgical Sciences (WEISS), are leading a project entitled; A Physics-InfOrmed, real-time recoNstruction framEwork for haEmodynamic virtual pRototyping and clinical support (PIONEER). The project aims to engineer sophisticated, physics-driven modelling and simulation tools which will extract accurate blood flow information from routinely used vascular imaging data. The models will then be used to guide personalised interventions and tailoring of cardiovascular devices. The research offers the potential for less invasive, less risky interventions for Type B aortic dissection patients, therefore improving surgical outcomes for this complex and difficult to treat vascular pathology. The project was awarded an EPSRC Transformative Healthcare Technologies Grant in 2021.

Our patient charity first partnered with the team on a public engagement project titled "The River Within Us", which provided an online experience to explore the aorta and the techniques the team use to understand it. We then awarded UCL the hosting of Aortic Dissection Awareness Day UK 2022 and put this research at the heart of our flagship annual event, held in central London at BMA House. At the event, a PPI co-creation workshop was held involving patients, relatives, clinicians and researchers. The workshop explored a number of key questions associated with the potential use of personalised patient surgical interventions, including what additional patient information would be needed, how fast and how accurate would different types of information need to be and what do patients and clinicians think about the use of personalised devices and individually tailored treatments.

A live visual artist, Jenny Leonard, produce this stunning artwork summarising our discussions on the day: