Liverpool Centre for Mathematics in Healthcare

Mathematical modelling of the lung airways in health and disease: Dr Carl Whitfield (University of Manchester)


* To be re-scheduled *


Title: Mathemical modelling of the lung airways in health and disease


The airways in human lungs form a complex tree network that branches in a dyadic manner repeatedly to transport gas to and from the microscopic alveoli. In healthy lungs this elaborate branching structure acts to maximise the surface area available for gas exchange in the limited 3D space. However, in many obstructive lung conditions the airways can become blocked or constricted, causing uneven delivery of gas or ventilation heterogeneity (VH). In this talk I will discuss some simple models that we have used to model VH using real patient data and Bayesian inference. Second, I will talk about some of our work in dimensionality reduction and uncertainty quantification in models of ventilation and gas transport on the whole airway network. In particular I will introduce some techniques in spectral graph theory that can be used to reduce and characterise simulations in image-based airway models.


Dr Carl Whitfield is an MRC Skills Development Fellow at the University of Manchester, specialising in mathematical modelling and the physics of soft and biological matter, with a current focus on mathematical modelling of ventilation and transport in the human lungs. Dr Whitfield is particularly interested in using models to gain greater insight into the early progression of Cystic Fibrosis from lung function tests, to thereby improve early detection of changes to lung structure that indicate a need for clinical intervention.  He works with a number of colleagues across the Universities of Manchester and Sheffield, building on previous funding awarded to develop models of air flow in the human lung to quantify the effects of correlated damage and heterogeneity on lung function.

Dr Whitfield has also worked previously at the Universities of Warwick and Sheffield, and his current research interests include: numerical modelling and pulmonary physiology; inert-gas washout and Cystic Fibrosis pathophysiology; uncertainty quantification and stochastic processes; active matter and swimming micro-organisms; liquid crystals and topological defects; and low Reynolds number fluid mechanics and flows in confinement.