WPI Professor Continues Ground-breaking Work on Carotid Artery Flow with National Science Foundation Grant

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WORCESTER, Mass. -- He hopes that someday his research will give insight into the complex process of artery collapse due to plaque growth but admits that he is just beginning a long process of investigation and research. He is WPI (Worcester Polytechnic Institute) associate professor of mathematical sciences Dalin Tang of Shrewsbury, Mass., the recipient of a $150,000 three-year grant from the National Science Foundation for his research entitled "Mathematical and Experimental Studies of Blood Flow in Collapsible Carotid Arteries with Stenoses."

In 1995, the Whitaker Foundation awarded Tang a $210,000 three-year grant for related research on "Computational and Experimental Studies of Blood Flow in Collapsible Carotid Arteries with Stenoses." Tang, a native of Nanjing, China, said the three-dimensional mathematical model he is working on to calculate blood flow differs from previous models because it leads to more realistic simulations of actual blood movement within arteries.

Tang received his B.A. in applied mathematics at Nanjing Institute of Technology in 1981. He continued on in applied mathematics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he obtained an M.A. in 1985. In 1988, Tang received a doctorate from Wisconsin-Madison. He began teaching mathematics before leaving China at the Sima Middle School and then taught on the college level at Nanjing Institute of Technology. From 1984 to 1988, Tang was a teaching assistant at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He came to WPI as an assistant professor of mathematics in 1988.

The goal of Tang's research is to use mathematical, computational and experimental methods to study and achieve better understanding of the process of artery collapse due to plaque formation, to obtain localized flow information which is useful for early detection of stenosis and to quantify physiological conditions under which arterial collapse may occur. Tang is developing a boundary iteration method to solve three-dimensional nonlinear viscous mathematical models with free moving boundaries that will be used to simulate blood flow in collapsible arteries. The method and models have wide ranges of application in the engineering and mathematical sciences.

Tang's research began approximately five years ago when he traveled to San Diego, Calif. to meet with Dr. Y.C. Fung, a pioneer in biomedical engineering. Tang presented his pre-proposal of using the boundary iteration method to study blood flow to Fung, who encouraged Tang to pursue it and gave him names of contacts who could assist him. Tang said he was uplifted by Fung's words and decided to continue his research in that direction. Three years ago, Tang encountered David Ku, professor of mechanical engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Since then, Ku has been a co-investigator with Tang in his research and continues to enrich Tang with his biomedical background. Tang, an applied mathematician, said that Ku's presence has been invaluable to him.

Tang conducts all of his calculations at WPI and meets with Ku yearly to discuss how their research is coming. He said he is indebted to other WPI faculty who have helped him in his research including electrical and computer engineering professor Peder Pedersen and other members of the mathematical sciences department. The research that Tang is conducting coincides with a recent trend in biomedics which emphasizes mathematical computations used to justify current therapies such as drug treatment for atherosclerosis.