Our Commitment to Health

Discover La Fondation Dassault Systèmes' commitment for people through its support of those who advance health innovation and accessibility for all. 

By 2050, the proportion of the world's population aged over 60 will have doubled, from 12% to 22%. Along with changing lifestyle, social inequalities and rapid urbanization, ageing population presents a complex challenge to healthcare professionals around the world, who are faced with a rise of chronic diseases and a large number of patients with unmet medical needs, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.

 

Today, 24% of the world’s population still lives in fragile contexts that are challenged in delivering quality essential medical services. The United Nations officially stressed out the necessity to ensure healthy lives for all by 2030, through Sustainable Development Goal #3: Good Health & Well Being.

Our Mission: Supporting Those Who Advance Education and Research

At La Fondation Dassault Systèmes, we keenly support the women and men who act for the common good through their work in the fields of education and research. This is why we have been helping medical researchers, healthcare professionals, schools and students across the globe in their efforts to improve health globally, while fostering current and future generations’ lifelong learning, from school to adulthood.

Beyond grants, we facilitate their learning and discovery journey by harnessing the power of virtual universes, which enable unlimited experimentation, while providing skills and expertise through the valuable contribution of Dassault Systèmes volunteers, and fostering connections between stakeholders – from schools and universities to scientists, institutions or state organizations.

Let’s discover their outstanding work.

Human Modeling

Modeling the human body, from cells to organs

From cell to tissue to organ modeling, researchers and doctors are already using 3D and simulation techniques to better understand, forecast, optimize treatment and personalize healthcare.

  • Blindness and vision impairment are relatively common disabilities that impact 2.2 billion people worldwide. Two relatively common forms of blindness occur just behind the eyeball, where the optic nerve connects to the brain. Researchers know that every time the eye moves – a couple of hundred thousand times a day – the optic nerve wiggles a bit, but the potential damage inflicted upon the delicate blood vessels by eye movement over the course of a lifetime is not well understood. To enhance understanding of this organ and make it possible to develop new therapeutic tools to treat blindness, La Fondation Dassault Systèmes has approved a grant to the Massachusetts Eye and Ear for a preliminary study to create a virtual twin of the human eye. Led by Dr. Joseph Rizzo, Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, the groundbreaking Living Eye Virtual Twin project will deepen understanding of this organ by developing a scientifically accurate 3D model that will allow researchers to observe the optic nerve in new ways, as current techniques can’t capture the complex dynamics of the eye. 

     

  • A team of students and researchers at Mines Paris Tech in France is focusing on the respiratory system and its tissues. The team is currently working on a 3D model of bronchial tubes to observe the behavior of respiratory cells. By exploiting numerical methods of AI and systems biology, they want to simulate the lung dynamic functioning when facing perturbations induced by genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis, aggression by environmental agents such as tobacco and pollutants or infectious agents such as SARS-CoV2. This study should lead to a better understanding of pulmonary diseases and new therapeutic strategies.

     

  • In the same domain, the “Living Lung” project is aimed at reaching the next level of pulmonary modeling, focusing on building a full 3D model of a breathing lung. Dr. Mona Eskandari and her research team at the University of California, Riverside in the US are constructing the first 3D finite element computational structural lung model to accurately represent experimentally acquired behavioral stretches, heterogeneity, and anisotropy during the dynamic breathing cycle. While providing a 3D playing field for pulmonary science progress and experimentation, the completion of this project will also provide crucial insights for medical advancements.

     

Virtual Training

“Never the first time on the patient”: training medical professionals in VR 

Leveraging 3D, Virtual Reality (VR) and simulation, researchers, students and medical professionals can now learn and practice medical procedures virtually before proceeding with a live act, reducing errors in the real world. Among many digital health training projects, La Fondation Dassault Systèmes is supporting two initiatives that focus on childbirth.

  • In France, the renowned Université Paris Cité (iLumens, Département de simulation en Santé), in relation with French public hospitals (Assistance Publique - Hôpitaux de Paris, Hôpital Foch), research laboratories, and 3D printing manufacturer (Lynxter, Bayonne, France), is training midwives, nurses, and maternity staff to face emergency procedures during delivery like postpartum bleeding or to detect premature delivery. The team has developed 3D-printed simulators for them to practice on-demand, wherever needed (in the hospital or in simulation center). On top of their obvious ethical advantages, synthetic tailor-made models are indeed a quicker and more efficient alternative to biological models. They enable the printing of specific anatomical parts in a reproducible way, and at lower cost, while being extremely close to reality. Simulation can be used to better understand clinical decisions made in stressful situations and to analyze teamwork in inter-professional environments.

     

  • The Digital Health Training project led by the University of Lorraine, France, in partnership with the Honoris Simulation Center of Tunis, Tunisia aims at democratizing medical training using the power of 3D is also the aim of the. This collaborative experience focuses on developing a set of 3D simulation training courses for students and healthcare professionals in maternity wards to master sophisticated medical practices such as lumbar puncture, or vaginal birth in the virtual world, before moving to actual patients. Augmented with visual and auditory live instructions, the VR experiences are reproducing clinical situations that occur every day in the hospital with high fidelity, and allow full immersion in the operating room or intensive care unit.

     

Neuroscience Exploration

Unravelling the mysteries of the human brain

Technology – from AI capabilities to progress in imaging, machine learning or 3D and simulation capabilities – is a powerful enabler to understand and apprehend the brain, our most complex organ.

  • In India, the Shiv Nadar Institution of Eminence in Delhi is working on a project for the neurorehabilitation of children with brain injury through 3D non-invasive neurostimulation physiotherapy techniques. This research particularly focuses on the analysis of 3D brain imaging to increase the precision of neurostimulation, and on the use of 3D drug discovery and modelling for neuroprotection to adapt the medical intervention to the ever-changing milieu in the child’s head.

     

  • Communicating with someone’s brain when their senses no longer work is now possible in real life. In the US, an MIT Media Lab research project called Brain Switch aims to help people suffering from ALS, also called Charcot's disease, which progressively leads to an inability to speak, to communicate with those around them. Thanks to the development of a brain-computer interface that allows brain-controlled binary responses (like yes or no), patients could come back home with a way to maintain connection with their loved ones. Read more with an interview of project head Nataliya Kos’myna.

     

  • Modeling and simulation can also be applied to the psychiatric domain, for example to personalize treatment protocols in mental illnesses like schizophrenia. With the D-SNIP program, the team at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) of Bengaluru, India, is using brain data from patients to adapt and target their electro-stimulation treatments. By modeling and simulating the brain response to electric current upon stimulation, they can optimize the parameters and the power of the applied current to specific brain regions, hence optmizing electro-stimulation protocols for a fully personalized and more efficient outcome. The project’s main researcher Dr Ganesan Venkatasubramanian has received the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for Science and Technology, one of the highest multidisciplinary science awards in India.

     

  • The researchers at Vishwakarma Institute of Information Technology in Pune (VIIT) are developing an automatic system for the early detection of speech fluency disorder in children (age 4 to 14), which will be useful to improve speech production and pronunciation fluency at an early stage.  It will use a mobile app based on recorded patients’ speech and video (facial movements) signals. This AI-based system will assist doctors in detecting fluency disorders. It will also provide useful feedback about the problems to patients or families, hence enabling it to reach out to remote or rural populations where experts are not necessarily available.

     

Cancer Research

Advancing the fight against cancer

According to the United Nations, cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for nearly 10 million deaths in 2020, one in six. From earlier detection to more effective cures, research findings could significantly impact millions of people’s lives.

  • In India, the researchers at Indian Institute of Technology – Mumbai have been working on a new type of micro-device that would allow early cancer detection through blood plasma samples using liquid biopsy. Such minimally invasive technique is of even higher accuracy than conventional biopsy and could also be used throughout a patient’s recovery to track disease progression and remission.

     

  • Another team of researchers in India, at Madanapalle Institute of Technology & Science – Andhra Pradesh is focusing on low-electron energy cancer treatment, on patients who undergo combined radio- and chemotherapy. By modeling and simulating the behavior of what is called radiosensitizer” molecules, like curcumin or quercetin (to be included in the chemo treatment), they have found that these could boost the action of radiation on tumor cells, with minimal impact on healthy cells, which greatly improves radiotherapy precision and efficiency.

     

Assistive Technology

Assisting people in their daily lives 

Technology helps extend people care beyond usual health facilities, whether at work or at home. 

  • Repeating the same gestures 5 days a week, can be very demanding on workers’ skeletons. The researchers of ESB Business School at Reutlingen University, Germany are currently developing an AI-based ergonomic evaluation and training method to improve assembly line workers’ posture, and especially protect their joints. Using a motion capture suit, the team analyzed and simulated the workers’ movements to track improper postures. Learning from their behaviors and nurtured by experts’ feedback, the AI could then identify bad postures and propose a personalized workflow, adapted to each worker’s constraints. A good way to relieve work pressure.

     

  • The Vishwakarma Institute of Technology in Pune, India, is on their side developing a “Virtual Smart Home Environment” for elderly people staying alone. While allowing them to control their home equipment (like doors, windows and lights) with their voice, the system also uses sensors to analyze the person’s movements and activity inside their home in order to alert primary contacts in case of a fall or any other incident. It can even use the collected data to propose changes in the ergonomics of the room. Installed in an old people facility dedicated to women near Pune, which houses 40 women, the idea is now to make it accessible more broadly within the country.

     

  • In the US, the students at Clarkson University are developing an Assistive and Intelligent Device Fabrication (AIDFab) Facility for Aging in Place. AIDFab combines all recent advances in robotics, 3D modeling, manufacturing and intelligent systems to imagine assistive devices that would allow individuals to continue to stay home and live safely, independently, and comfortably as they age. The goal is also to raise students’ awareness of old age challenges and potential solutions, and to enable them to develop new skills that they can then put to use in their future jobs for the common good.

     

 

Medicine and Engineering

Engineering and medical science, working hand-in-hand 

The beauty of technology also lies in its collaborative power and how it helps build bridges between disciplines or people to bring out the best in innovation, for the benefit of patients.

  • At the Vellore Institute of Technology, in Chennai, India, engineering students are getting trained on medical science. This innovative training course, based on bio-modeling and simulation techniques, prepares them to design efficient and advanced bio-devices and medical equipment. By studying how biological systems work, students can develop a holistic approach to bioengineering and biomechanics that will help them design more effective devices for medical purposes. The course is truly multidisciplinary, multi-domain and has been developed by experts from both medical and engineering domains.

     

  • At the MIT World Peace University of Pune, India, young talents from medical and engineering colleges gather for three day-hackathons, four times a year, and work together under the mentorship of experts to solve practical healthcare-related challenges. The young multidisciplinary teams here combine their expertise to identify, define, and develop innovative ideas to make healthcare, medical devices and facilities more accessible across the country, especially in rural areas, at an affordable cost.