Upgrade 2021: CIS LAB Speakers

September 21, 2021 // Upgrade 2021: CIS LAB Speakers

Bio Digital Twins in Health and Disease: Day 2 presentation

Jon Peterson, VP of Strategy, NTT Research Senior Research Scientist, Medical & Health Informatics (MEI) Lab, NTT Research


Following up on his Day 1 talk at Upgrade 2021 on bio-digital twin technology, on Day 2 Dr. Jon Peterson, a Senior Research Scientist at NTT Research, presented some practical use cases for the technology in a medical setting.


The initial target of NTT Research’s work on bio-digital twin technology is cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death worldwide. The goal is to enable individualized medicine by designing a virtual, software-based representation of a patient – their bio-digital twin.


This digital replica of a patient can be used to predict how well a specific patient will respond to medications and other interventions. Eventually, the vision is that it will also be used for wellness, by preventing the development of cardiovascular disease in the first place.


While attaining that goal will likely take several years, in the meantime Dr. Peterson presented some proof-of-concepts to show the promise of bio-digital twin models.


The system uses patient data to create a digital cardiovascular twin. To illustrate, the research team used a pressure waveform from the PhysioNet public domain database to represent a patient. They applied statistical techniques (the Embody Bayesian Inference Engine) using a very simple single-chamber cardiovascular model to define a simplified digital twin. As a next step, they will use additional data to create a more sophisticated digital twin using the model Dr. Peterson presented on Day 1.


The model is able to track changes in heart rate, stressed blood volume, blood pressure, and systemic arterial resistance. Essentially, that paints a picture of how fast the heart is pumping, how hard it pumps, how much fluid it’s pumping, and resistance, or how hard it is to pump the fluid through the system.


The scenarios Dr. Peterson explored included the effect on the cardiovascular system of a healthy person during exercise, including increased heart rate and cardiac output. “It’s a nice illustration of how changing just one or two things can start to affect quite a few waveforms,” he said.


Another example was a 50-year-old patient with a hypertensive emergency, namely high blood pressure. The goal is to reduce the blood pressure, but not too quickly, because that could have adverse effects on vital organs including the brain and heart. The model enables doctors to introduce a drug, sodium nitroprusside, and see how quickly the patient’s blood pressure drops. In a hospital environment, the idea would be to identify the exact dose of the drug before actually administering it to the patient.


A third example was a patient with a profusely bleeding wound, and rapidly dropping blood pressure. In this case, Otto can show what happens when the patient is treated with blood infusions along with a drug to increase how hard and fast the heart pumps, to try to stabilize the patient’s blood pressure. The model is also advanced enough to show the effects of administering both fluid and a drug simultaneously, rather than one after the other.


For more details on Dr. Peterson’s work and how, and when, bio-digital twin technology may apply in a medical setting, view his talk above or click here to read an abstract.


In the video, Jon Peterson discusses the topic Bio Digital Twins in Health and Disease.


Presented at the NTT Research Upgrade 2021 Summit on September 21, 2021.


Click below for the full transcript.

Jon Peterson

VP of Strategy, NTT Research Senior Research Scientist, Medical & Health Informatics (MEI) Lab, NTT Research

Jon Peterson explores the application of engineering principles to medical challenges. After obtaining a degree in electrical engineering from Cornell University, he studied the molecular mechanisms underlying cardiac relaxation at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, receiving a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering. During postdoctoral and faculty appointments at the University of Vermont, he delved into molecular energetics in the normal and diseased heart. Upon joining a small consulting group, he worked on biomedical projects ranging from the detection and classification of atrial fibrillation to a teleoperated surgical robotics system. For the past 15 years, Dr. Peterson’s work has focused on implanted sensors, systems and simulations for diagnosis of cardiac rhythm disorders and heart failure.