OpenSim Creator: Empowering biomedical research with biomechanical models wins CZI EOSS Award
Ajay Seth of 3mE’s Department of Biomechanical Engineering has been awarded a Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) Essential Open Source Software for Science (EOSS) grant of US$ 350,000 to develop OpenSim Creator. This open-source biomechanical simulator will enable researchers worldwide to create novel neuromuscular and musculoskeletal models within hours, enabling better and faster responses to biomedical questions about human and animal mobility.
OpenSim Creator evolved from Seth’s earlier work on OpenSim, already used by engineers and researchers for modelling the mechanics of articulating bones and muscles to simulate human movement. OpenSim Creator will enable users to do all that but faster and more accurately - and not only that: “OpenSim Creator will provide musculoskeletal morphing tools which allow the reshaping of models to match patients’ biomedical images, so doctors and researchers can create their own new models – something which is normally really difficult,” says Seth.
Morphing to model each individual
This is useful for people wanting to build patient-specific models of patients that don’t fit the generic model, and for animals: for instance, an amputee or a child, or even a gorilla. “If someone has a specific deformity, and you want to model how they move, you need to take an existing model and then apply torsion to the bones to represent that deformity. And that’s actually what we do in OpenSim Creator - we take an existing model and morph it based on an images of what that model should become – and we hope to be able to transform a complete model in just a few hours.”
And this technology is helpful not just to medical scientists, but also palaeobiologists studying the biomechanics of different species. “Being able to morph to other species is a big head start as we can use what we know to fit existing fossils helping to bring them to life.”
Dr. Seth and his lead developer of OpenSim Creator, Adam Kewley, are delighted with this CZI grant because “we can now really push forward. Our previous award in 2020 gave birth to OpenSim Creator, and now this is twice as much, so for us this is a strong affirmation that what we’re doing is needed and that CZI were pleased with our first results.”