Professors contribute to biomedical community


Davide Piovesan, Ph.D., and Anne Schmitz, Ph.D., recently had their article titled “Development of an Open-Source, Discrete Element Knee Model” published in the Modeling issue of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Transactions on Biomedical Engineering (TBME).
This is a high-ranking biomedical technology journal and is well-respected in the field.
For the past three years, Schmitz and Piovesan, both assistant professors of biomedical engineering at Gannon, have been developing a model of the knee that is validated, open-source and contains both ligament and cartilage contact loads.
“This is a huge victory for us because Gannon is beginning to get recognized in the modeling field,” Schmitz said. “Students are being taught how to model by experts in the field who have nationwide recognition and visibility through this paper.”
This is important because students in the biomedical engineering field now will be able to use the same model of a knee that was developed by their professors and that will be in use by researchers around the world to solve problems and develop models of their own.
Schmitz said that because the model is open-source and available to everyone, researchers and students will not have to start building their own models from scratch and can help with the progress of the modeling field.
When asked why researchers have to start from scratch if they want to create a model of the knee of this magnitude, Schmitz said that knee models are hard to make because the researchers who create models of the knee often keep them to themselves.
“However, we value moving the modeling field forward more than keeping our model secret,” Schmitz said. “We want to see people use it and our students to learn to use it.”
Piovesan said that an article was published praising this model of the knee and their efforts to make the model available to the modeling community as an open source. The article was written by well-respected professors in the field.
Because this model has been made available to the public and has been made open-source this means that anyone in the modeling community will be able to get the model that Piovesan and Schmitz created and then make adjustments to it to fit their needs and continue to develop it further.
Until now, models of the knee that are this complete have been kept private by the people who create them and the people who paid to have the models created. Now, people can simply download a professionally approved and praised model of the knee for their own use in research.
In addition to being an exciting development in the modeling community, Piovesan said that it is also exciting for Gannon.
“We are fortunate that the biomedical engineering program at Gannon University has some unique capabilities that enable us to integrate computational models and experimental measurements that are usually only found at larger, research-oriented institutions,” Piovesan said.
“Publication in a high-impact journal confirms that our faculty have a high level of expertise in computational biomechanics.”

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