Respiratory illnesses, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), affect over 400 million people worldwide and are the third leading cause of mortality in the United States. The main form of treatment for the majority of patients is inhalation therapy. However, intersubject variability has a pronounced effect on the efficiency of drug delivery, due to considerable variation in regional aerosol deposition within the lungs. Despite advances in imaging modalities, in vivo determination of local deposition patterns remains limited by imaging resolution and concerns over patient exposure to radiation. In silico methods are a valuable alternative which can provide detailed description of the flow and regional deposition in the airways, and assist in developing effective treatment strategies.
This talk will focus on the use of high-fidelity simulations for (i) patient-specific predictions of the airflow and aerosol deposition in the upper airways, and (ii) detailed characterization of particle transport and deposition mechanisms. The computational strategy adopted is based on a robust immersed boundary method developed for curvilinear coordinates, which allows the use of relatively simple structured grids to model the realistic airway geometries. Instantaneous definitions of the particle Stokes number and non-dimensional settling velocity are derived, based on the local flow properties, which allow us to extract more detailed and accurate information on the particle trajectories and the mechanisms contributing to deposition.
Dr. Nicolaou currently holds a Provostís Visiting Assistant Professorship in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. Previously, she was a Research Fellow at Imperial College London (2014-2017). She received her M.Eng and Ph.D degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Imperial. Her research interests are in fluid mechanics and high-performance scientific computing, with applications to medicine and biology. In particular, her research activity focuses on flow and aerosol deposition in the respiratory airways and the development of numerical algorithms for efficient high-fidelity simulations. Her work on inhalation therapy relies on in silico modeling to develop new understanding of the deposition of inhaled particles and to optimize drug delivery to the lungs.