Medical innovation using engineering principles

There is a rapidly growing demand for in silico (computer-aided medicine) and personalised treatment within the healthcare sector. This emerging discipline uses modelling and simulation technologies to address medical issues as part of the clinical assessment process.

The applications could relate to treatment planning and disease prevention, diagnosis, management and prognosis (i.e. the likely course of a medical condition). This emerging technology is playing a vital role in the testing of new drugs and treatment for the advancement of human health.

Computational medicine provides a prediction on quantities which are hardly accessible for direct measure but which are important to support medical decisions. Patient-specific approaches are pursued, with simulations based on data (e.g. medical images) obtained on the subject of interest at the time of interest (e.g. prior to an intervention).

In silico medicine is turning from a dream of a few visionary researchers into an industrial reality. It is vital that universities start to train the first generation of specialists to meet the future needs of the healthcare industry and physicians.

Professor Marco Viceconti, director of insigneo

An example of an application of computational medicine is the use of subject-specific computer models to predict pulmonary hypertension (read full scientific publication HERE). Pulmonary hypertension is a disease affecting the blood pressure in the arteries of the lung and heart. The gold standard for this disease detection is highly invasive and involves right heart catheterisation procedures. The development of computer simulations based on Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) data specific to the patient allows for a non-invasive diagnostic tool with high accuracy by quantifying metrics related to pulmonary vasculature haemodynamics and right ventricular morphology and function.

Computational medicine technologies aim at supporting medical decisions. Moreover, the use of collections of patient-specific models could provide a tool for pre-clinical and clinical assessment of new biomedical products. In silico approaches (i.e. conducted using computer modelling and simulation) could be employed to reduce, refine and partially replace animal and human experimentation.

You may also hear the term 'computational medicine' referred to as virtual medicine, computational biology, virtual reality healthcare, in silico healthcare, individualised health and personalised health.

The course

The University of Sheffield is one of the only universities in the world - and the only university in the UK - to be offering a course in this specialised area. Our postgraduate masters in Computational Medicine will produce highly skilled graduates who can meet the needs of the medical and healthcare industries to advance this progressive field further.

The MSc in Computational Medicine is an interdisciplinary partnership between the University of Sheffield’s Faculty of Engineering, the Insigneo Institute for In Silico Medicine and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals.

Regulatory affairs

Computational medicine is a field where modelling and simulations are challenged to meet the required standards of safety. It is vital that analysts working in this area are trained so that they are able to confidently discern when computational results are not reliable and act accordingly.

It is vital that universities now start training this first generation of specialists in computational medicine to make sure that projects such as the in silico trials become reality.

The emerging regulatory framework for in silico medicine


The course will prepare you as the first generation of subject-specific modelling specialists for this emerging sector. You'll receive hands-on training in modelling of the human body using the most advance technologies available to date.

You'll have the skills to continue on to one of our own PhD's or move towards employment in the biomedical industries, regulatory agencies, research hospitals or innovative companies offering in silico medical services.