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Simulation and Measurement of Human Physiology Courses

Purpose of this site

The purpose of this space is to develop and distribute content related to a curriculum effort started in the Bioengineering Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign . To reach us please fill out our webform or contact us directly with the information provided below.


We focused on exploring the Neuro, Cardiovascular, Muscle, and Endocrine systems in Simulink. As an objective, each module attempts to explain a particular behavior of the system, utilizing simple differential equations based on the mathematical models presented in Hoppensteadt and Peskin "Modeling and Simulation in Medicine and Life Science". Each module includes Simulink files, any accompanying MATLAB plotting and parameter m-files, and an exploratory documentation.

The documentations are provided for students to understand the connections between the mathematical models and the generated code. It is our intent for students unfamiliar, or intimidated by differential equations to generate an understanding and appreciation for mathematical and computer models. Students are able to follow step-by-step as behaviors are explained and transformed into equations, leading to their implementation in Simulink. 

If interested in acquiring any of the modules, please fill out the following webform

*Disclaimer: Updates to the website will be made according to the Lecture Schedule of BIOE 302: Quantitative Physiology. 


Engineers and non-engineering students have traditionally learned human physiology through absorption of information and behavior concepts. This results in being able to describe the particular relationships that were examined. However, the material presented in that form limits the student's ability to retain that knowledge or extrapolate it to new systems of physiology. Instead, we focus on creating an appreciation for the basic conservation principles that lead to simple, but quantitative, mathematical models of physiological behavior. Understanding of these principles creates an enduring understanding of the physiology and enables extrapolation.

In addition, simulation models allow for hundreds of experiments to be virtually performed by students to create a quantitative feel for the behavior of a system. This must be tied to several real experiments to validate the models and demonstrate the measurement of input parameters to the models. We utilize MATLAB and Simulink to generate computer models for differing physiological systems. Experimental procedures are performed with the BIOPAC system, and data analysis is done in MATLAB.


To achieve this objective we focus on creation of curriculum modules that integrate: modeling, simulation, and experimentation.

  • Develop mathematical simulation software that provides varying levels of details of the mathematics. With a basic level describing behavior of a system as a story. However, providing the implementation details of the software down to differential equations, initializations, and input/output checking for those that understand the mathematics well.
  • Make clear the benefits and limitations of the models.
  • Implement the software in widely used format that has nice analytical tools for processing the output: Matlab.
  • Develop laboratory exercises that enable the measurement of nearly identical behavior as to what is being simulated.
  • Integrate the measurement and simulation components of a module. For example, using the model to infer a parameter value that is not directly measurable, non-invasively.
  • Develop appreciation for the approach across educators.
  • Distribute the curriculum modules widely to effect change in undergraduate human physiology education across a range of mathematical backgrounds.

For more information or to get involved:

Email: bsutton@illinois.edu
Brad Sutton
4157 Beckman Institute
405 N Mathews Ave
Urbana, IL 61801
Research homepage

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