The Thin Red Line

By Megan Johnson, NCSA
A digital representation of blood clotting. We see the donut shaped red blood cells flowing through a vein from the inside, and a ball of them getting caught up in white fibers.

When we have a cut, we bleed. Fortunately, there’s a small hero that saves all our lives when this happens – the efficient blood clot. When clotting doesn’t work properly it can cause dire problems for the body. For instance, if our blood clots too much, it can cause blockages that result in strokes, heart attacks and thrombosis – a condition where a clot blocks a vein, which would keep blood flowing where it’s needed in the body. Too little clotting and we’d die from blood loss. Researchers from Alexander Alexeev’s laboratory at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) are attempting to create an accurate clotting simulation to help them study what affects clot formation in instances where the process isn’t happening correctly. They turned to ACCESS for help with their research computing needs.

Diana Sun, previously a graduate student at Georgia Tech who worked in Alexeev’s lab, is now an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Lafayette College. Sun focused her research on creating a simulation based on mechanical forces. If the simulation worked, it would allow researchers to study a number of clotting issues in patients.

Sun used Bridges-2 at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC) to create the simulation. With each iteration of her working simulation, she added new variables from the clotting process, each time comparing the simulated clots to real clots. These simulations required a lot of compute power to run.

Bridges-2 is very essential for our work … With [it], I have sufficient memory in the nodes – memory that my advisor’s cluster couldn’t handle.

–Diana Sun, Lafayette College

Alexeev’s team intends to build upon this research, which focused on the red blood cell’s role in clot formation, in future versions of the simulation. If you’d like to learn more about this research, you can find the in-depth article here: Bridges-2 Simulations Target Role of Red Blood Cells in Clot Formation.

Project Details

Resource Provider Institution(s): Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC)
Affiliations: Georgia Institute of Technology
Funding Agency: NSF
Grant or Allocation Number(s): DMR180038

The science story featured here was enabled by the U.S. National Science Foundation’s ACCESS program, which is supported by National Science Foundation grants #2138259, #2138286, #2138307, #2137603, and #2138296.

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