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iSGTW Link of the week - Defibrillation of the heart

Link of the week - Defibrillation of the heart


What happens to the heart under the influence of electric shock? Defibrillation may be well used in hospitals, but the mechanisms behind it are still not fully understood.
Image courtesy of National Grid Service

Step inside the heart as part of the Integrative Biology Project, a consortium of researchers using e-science to combat fatal diseases.

Members of this project, Blanca Rodriguez and her colleagues from the Computational Biology Group at the University of Oxford, are using the National Grid Service to power simulations of the application of electric shocks to both healthy and diseased hearts.

Rodriguez hopes the simulations will help improve understanding of exactly how defibrillation, a common but poorly understood medical technique, works.

The research involves running many sequential simulations, including parameter sweeps of variables such as shock strength and timing.

250 milliseconds of data; 28 CPU hours of work

To obtain just 250 milliseconds of animated data, Rodriguez churns through 28 hours of processing time per parameter.

With the use of the NGS, Rodriguez has been able to run hundreds of sequential simulations on many CPUs, something she feels would have been impossible without the NGS.

"Using the NGS does not give time improvements when you are using sequential code, but it does give definite performance improvements." says Rodriquez. "Once you get started, the NGS is very easy to use."

- Katie Weeks, NGS

This article appears in more detail in the March 2008 edition of NGS News. The next edition of NGS News is due June 2008.

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