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Information for Researchers No. 56 | 28 August 2020
Priority Programme “Robust Coupling of Continuum-biomechanical In Silico Models to Establish Active Biological System Models for Later Use in Clinical Applications – Co-design of Modelling, Numerics and Usability” (SPP 2311)

In 2020, the Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) established the Priority Programme “Robust Coupling of Continuum-biomechanical In Silico Models to Establish Active Biological System Models for Later Use in Clinical Applications – Co-design of Modelling, Numerics and Usability” (SPP 2311). The programme is designed to run for six years. The present call invites proposals for the first three-year funding period.

The aim of the Priority Programme is to co-design robust, computational, continuum-biomechanical models by developing new methods uniting research in modelling, numerics and a particular medical application. The focus hereby is on models of active biological systems in the human organism to advance methods that can later be integrated within a clinical environment, but rather to define the interfaces between model and clinical application. The Priority Programme does not aim to establish the transfer of the models into the clinic via clinical trials. In particular, the programme will concentrate on coupling strategies for “active” biological systems. The definition of “active” refers to systems that experience a change of state due to physical, chemical, and/or biological phenomena or stimuli. Examples are metabolic processes, growth and remodelling, or electrical stimulation.

Comprehensive models adequately representing the complex and strongly coupled behaviour of active biological systems require close interdisciplinary collaborations between continuum-biomechanics, numerical mathematics, HPC, data processing and medical applications. This yields the following three research areas:

  • The research area “Modelling” focuses on the coupling of biomechanical in silico models of various functional aspects of active biological systems embracing different spatial and temporal scales or on the coupling of continuum-biomechanical organ system models. Examples are diffusion-advection-reaction equations on different scales (for instance PDE/PDE, PDE/ODE coupling), homogenisation methods (mixture theory, theory of porous media, Biot theory, etc.), geometric coupling (e.g. 3D-1D-0D coupling), data-driven coupling (such as machine learning as coupling tool), or coupling of organ systems (cardiovascular system, musculoskeletal system, hepato-intestinal, -renal and -pulmonary system, etc.).
  • The research area “Numerics” focuses on mathematical algorithms for the robust numerical solution of coupled models for active biological systems and their implementation on high performance computers. Examples are coupling algorithms (monolithic, segregated), stability and reliability (mixed methods, error estimators, adaptivity, etc.), efficient and parallel scaling algorithms for complex multi-scale models on supercomputers, nonlinear/linear solvers (e.g. preconditioning, domain decomposition and multigrid methods), model reduction (POD, DEIM, neural networks, analytical reduction methods, sparse grids), or numerical homogenisation methods (FE2, etc.).
  • The research area “Usability” focuses on validation, data exchange, and establishment of computational continuum-biomechanical models to answer clinically relevant questions or to support personalised treatments. Examples are calibration and validation (experimental methods, statistical validation methods), standardisation (data standardisation and data management, interfaces between experiment, clinic and model, integration of data from different resources, and comparable), and applications in a clinical environment (data preparation, definition and validation of systems for scoring, staging and grading, definition and validation of scoring systems, workflows in clinical setting, reflection studies).

None of these research areas shall be considered independently from each other. They need to be strongly linked by a true co-design. This link must be explicitly described in the proposal. In order to promote interdisciplinarity and networking, all proposals must thematically cover at least two of the three areas. Ideally, this is achieved by tandem proposals. In justified cases, triple proposals from the fields of modelling, numerics, and usability can also be considered. For additional information about specific inclusion and exclusion criteria applicable to this Priority Programme, please refer to the programme’s website.

Proposals must be written in English and submitted to the DFG by 16 December 2020. Please note that proposals can only be submitted via elan, the DFG’s electronic proposal processing system. To enter a new project within the existing Priority Programme, go to Proposal Submission – New Project/Draft Proposal – Priority Programmes and select “SPP 2311” from the current list of calls.

In preparing your proposal, please review the programme guidelines (form 50.05, section B) and follow the proposal preparation instructions (form 54.01). These forms can either be downloaded from our website or accessed through the elan portal. In addition to submitting your proposal through elan, please send an electronic copy to the programme coordinator.

Applicants must be registered in elan prior to submitting a proposal to the DFG. If you have not yet registered, please note that you must do so by 9 December 2020 to submit a proposal under this call; registration requests received after this time cannot be considered. You will normally receive confirmation of your registration by the next working day. Note that you will be asked to select the appropriate Priority Programme call during both the registration and the proposal process.

Further Information

More information on the Priority Programme is available under:

The elan system can be accessed at:

DFG forms 50.05 and 54.01 can be downloaded at:

For scientific enquiries please contact the Priority Programme coordinator:

  • Professor Oliver Röhrle Ph.D.
    Universität Stuttgart
    Fakultät 2: Bau- und Umweltingenieurwissenschaften
    Institut für Modellierung und Simulation Biomechanischer Systeme
    Pfaffenwaldring 7
    70569 Stuttgart
    phone +49 711 685-66284
    Link auf E-Mailroehrle@simtech.uni-stuttgart.de

Questions on the DFG proposal process can be directed to:


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