The artificial human body - by computer design

19 April 2016

Human-made artificial systems have unlimited potential to help us understand the most complex machine of all: the human body.

For this year’s Gibbons Lectures at the University of Auckland some of New Zealand’s leading scientists will discuss advances in one of the most exciting developments in medical science: medical applications of computer and information technologies.

The human body is of mind-boggling complexity in the immense number and detail of its components, the interconnections between them and the way they are controlled. This complexity is why Medicine, although benefiting greatly from Science, remains an Art.

However, over the last 60 years, increases in computer computational power, the storage of information, and in data transfer, have led us to develop human-made artificial systems that also are mind-bendingly powerful.

Although in no way approaching human complexity, the capacity of these modern computer systems has provided us with tools that enable us to better understand how the body works, and to better diagnose and treat disease.

Leading the lecture series for 2016 is Distinguished Professor Peter Hunter, director of the Auckland Bioengineering Institute, who will address the use of computer models that improve understanding of human physiology and proposed treatments of diseases.

In the second lecture, Professor Thomas Lumley of the Statistics Department will get down to the molecular level, describing the use of modern computing and storage capacity in analysing DNA.

In the third lecture, Professor Anthony Butler from the University of Otago at Christchurch will discuss the way in which IT has revolutionised diagnostic imaging and describe advanced research being undertaken in this area.

The final lecture by Professor Jim Warren, of the University of Auckland’s Department of Computer Science will then take a broader look at how IT can assist in managing chronic illness.

Gibbons Lectures schedule

  1. Computational Physiology - Thursday 5 May
        Distinguished Professor Peter Hunter.
        Director of Auckland Bioengineering Institute, the University of Auckland.
  2. Finding your place in the genome: assembly, annotation, association - Thursday 12 May
        Professor Thomas Lumley.
        Department of Statistics, the University of Auckland.
  3. A case study of IT in Medical Imaging: The evolution of Computed Tomography - Thursday 19 May
        Professor Anthony Butler.
        University of Otago at Christchurch, Head of the Department of Radiology and Director of the Centre for Bioengineering and Nanomedicine.
  4. Using IT to improve health delivery for management of chronic illness - Thursday 26 May
        Professor Jim Warren.
        Professor of Health Informatics, Department of Computer Science, the University of Auckland.

This lecture series is free and open to the public. Drinks and nibbles are provided from 6pm on Level 1 of the Owen G Glenn Building (Business School), Grafton Road, Auckland. Lectures will commence at 6.30, and take place in OGGB3 on Level 0 of the Owen G Glenn Building.

For media enquiries, please contact Anne Beston -