Feedback on 2022 MSM Mission Statement

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DRAFT 2022 Mission Statement


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Grace Peng (10/7/22):  I think this updated mission statement does a good job reflecting new ways the MSM Consortium can make an impact to the biomedical, biological and behavioral communities!

Andrew McCulloch (10/11/22). I like this updates statement a lot and have just a couple of minor comments and changes suggested in red:

"In the 21st Century the power and promise of computational modeling across multiple spatial and temporal scales ..."
- Since spatial and temporal scale are continuous, instead of "multiple", I suggest "large ranges of spatial and temporal scale..." 
Grow and expand the field of multi-scale modeling in biomedical science -- which is the development and application of mechanistic, mathematical and computational models that represent ranges of spatial and temporal scales, .... Advance the field to ultimately improve health and clinical care, including:
• Promoting collaborations and building communities of investigators between modelers, experimentalists, clinicians...
• Developing new methods and algorithms, including mechanistic-informed ... (I think this is inventing a term to try and thread a needle, perhaps "including mechanism-based and data-driven predictive analyses" 
• Encouraging, mentoring, and funding future generations of multi-scale modelers. (improving access?)

MSM Definition
Multiscale, biomedical modeling uses mathematics, statistics and computation to represent, simulate, and
predict the function of physiological systems across the wide temporal and spatial scales corresponding to atomic, molecular, macromolecular, organelle, cellular, tissue, organ, organ system, organismal, behavioral, population, ecosystem, and evolutionary scales of biological organization.

James Brasseur (10/11/22):

(1) I generally agree with the suggested edits from Andrew McCulloch (above), but feel that there are more improvements possible.

(2) The current “MSM Vision” states that “the power and promise of computational modeling … will advance our understanding …” It seems to me that it is the insightful application of computational modeling, rather than “power and promise,” that will advance understanding, etc. I am also puzzled about the reason for the reference to “the 21st century.” I think that the reason may be an oblique reference to the latest advances in science and technology(?). I suggest direct reference. May I suggest the following modified vision statement as a starting point?:

Insightful application of ever-increasing advances in the computational modeling of biological systems across wide ranges of spatial and temporal scales has the power and promise to solve key scientific questions and create major technological advancements for the improvement of human health.

(3) In the “MSM Mission” section:

> First sentence:  I suggest some small edits to improve readability. Also, because elsewhere the word “multiscale” is not hyphenated, for consistency I suggest that it not be hyphenated in this sentence:

Grow and expand the field of multiscale modeling through the development and application of mechanistic mathematical and computational models over wide ranges of spatial and temporal scales and multiple levels of investigation that include anatomical, physiological, behavioral, social, and environmental elements.

> Bullet 1: The theme of the first bullet seems to be the interdisciplinary nature of MSM. I suggest making that explicit. I also suggest removing the second “ing” word to improve sentence structure:

Promoting interdisciplinary collaborations and communities of computational scientists, experimentalists, clinicians, public health experts and other stakeholders through the combination of different modeling techniques;

>Bullet 3: I do not understand why the word “fair” is all in caps. Is this an acronym? If so, it should be spelled out. If not, what does the term “fair principles” mean? What are “unfair” principles? I also suggest removing the word “a” to read “…credibility towards unified model development,…”

> Bullet 4: I suggest removing the word “the” and changing “with” to “within”:

“Facilitating the dissemination of models and modeling insights within the biomedical, biological, …”

(4) MSM Definition: In my opinion, “e.g.” should be removed from the two statements within parentheses. If they are not removed, commas should be placed after “e.g.”. Also in my opinion, if a long list of individual spatial scales is included, there should also be a long list of temporal scales: (nanoseconds, milliseconds, seconds, minutes, hours, years). If you agree, then I would put the spatial scales list first so that the time scales can be roughly correlated with the spatial scales in the minds of the readers.

Jacob Barhak (10/12/2022),

There are two things that are really missing for me in the document:

1. The word reproducibility does not appear in the new document  and although credibility appears - we need reproducible science especially if we are dealing with computer models. So the word reproducibility should appear - at this point in time where too many models are not reproducible, we need to add that word and enforce it as part of the mission. We need to be explicit to reach credibility in the long run. 

2. The document does not mention the type of experts participating in the group. This is good since it does not limit things. However, in practice things are a bit different. In the many years I engaged with the group I have not encountered many researchers outside academia. There are very few of them in the community that is composed of mostly academia and government. For example, industry is not frequently seen at meetings and grants. The fact that the group is open to all sorts of sectors, government, industry, academia, and non profits as well as individuals should be mentioned in the document - currently its only implied and it needed to be made clear. It may also help the process of disseminating the work done in the group since group members can stay in the group and operate in different conditions - for example taking research done by an institution and going outside and making a product or a service industry. Currently it seems not many are taking that route - possibly since leaving academia makes then les applicable in this group. I am writing this after seeing how academia dominated the field and someone from the outside had difficulties in this community. I must add that the leaders for many years facilitated the involvement of individuals and companies outside the academic circle in meetings, yet for the field to grow there is a need to open up funding opportunities and other mechanisms. A good start is to make this explicit in the mission statement that the group is open to all sorts of experts with different backgrounds, including industry, non profits and other entities.  Perhaps a change the mission statement will bring other changes with it that will improve the field. 

Yet overall the document is good. 


From Jerry Myers (10/19/2022) on behalf of the Committee for Credible Practice for Models and Simulations in Healthcare (CPMS)

MSM vision statement currently says -

“Promoting FAIR principles and credibility towards a unified model development, documentation, benchmarking, and sharing;”

The CPMS suggest the following change to:

“Promoting FAIR principles and credible practices towards integrating model development, documentation, benchmarking, and sharing;”

Reason: Credibility is contextual with the application of the model, while the activity of credible practice is more analogous to the FAIR principle application.  We prefer the action verb "integrating" rather than the term "unified" as it relates more to the continuous activity associated with the model rather than an end goal that may have different expectations depending on the intended application.  


From B.J. Fregly (Rice University) on 10/17/22:  One suggestion that you may wish to consider, which is to add an additional section to the document entitled something like "MSM Motivation."

Maybe motivating why developing models that can accurately represent phenomena across multiple time and/or length scales is not relevant to that document, in which case you can ignore this suggestion. But as I read the document, I kept asking myself, "What exactly does multiscale modeling buy us that we don't get with modeling at a single time or length scale?" At least for me, it would be helpful to see a well-reasoned argument motivating and explaining the types of important health problems that multi-scale modeling can potentially solve that would not be solvable otherwise.

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