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Flowing Toward Red Blood Cell Breakthroughs


Red blood cells (red) and circulating tumor cells (green) traveling through a microfluidic cell sorting device, as simulated by uDeviceX.

Researchers are using the Cray XK7 Titan supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to better understand and fight diseases affecting red blood cells.

Credit: Yu-Hang Tang/Brown University

A team of researchers from Brown University, ETH Zurich, and the Swiss National Supercomputing Center is using Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Cray XK7 Titan supercomputer to help understand and fight diseases affecting red blood cells.

Led by Brown's George Karniadakis, the team hopes to simulate hundreds of millions of red blood cells in an attempt to develop better drug delivery methods and predictors to curb tumor formation and sickle cell anemia.

The team's research has made it a finalist for this year's ACM Gordon Bell Prize—one of the most prestigious awards in high-performance computing—to be presented at the SC15 supercomputing conference in Austin, TX, next month.

The team uses dissipative particle dynamics in its simulations to study blood flow as a collection of individual particles rather than a single fluid object.

Project collaborator and Brown doctoral researcher Yu-Hang Tang is also focusing on how blood and cancerous tumor cells might be separated by microfluidic devices, and his simulations are one to three times larger—in terms of the number of simulated cells and computational elements—than the field's current state–of–the–art methods. Tang and his collaborators exploited Titan's graphics-processing unit (GPU) accelerators and developed uDeviceX, a GPU-driven particle solver to help plot individual particles in the simulation.

From Oak Ridge National Laboratory
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