The pulmonary research group at the University of Auckland Bioengineering Institute are developing anatomically- and biophysically- based computational models of the pulmonary system. These models link structure and function over multiple spatial scales - for example, gas transport from the largest bronchi to the alveolated airways, and perfusion of the pulmonary arteries, capillary bed, and veins.
The group is currently developing and coupling models of air flow, blood flow, soft tissue mechanics, gas exchange, heat and water balance, and inert gas mixing in anatomically-based geometric meshes. Anatomical meshes are created from geometric fitting to high resolution CT data (lungs, lobes, large airways and blood vessels), and by using generation algorithms designed to characterize the smaller pulmonary structures (non-segmented airways and vessels, alveolar tissue, microcirculation). Equations governing transport or mechanics are solved in the anatomical models, with details in the equations appropriate to the level of physiological interest (e.g. Navier Stokes equations for flow in large vessels, but two-phase network-flow model for transport in the microcirculation).