SPARK: A framework for multi-scale agent-based biomedical modeling

Alexey Solovyev, Maxim Mikheev, Leming Zhou, Joyeeta Dutta-Moscato, Cordelia Ziraldo, Gary An, Yoram Vodovotz, Qi Mi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Multi-scale modeling of complex biological systems remains a central challenge in the systems biology community. A method of dynamic knowledge representation known as agent-based modeling enables the study of higher level behavior emerging from discrete events performed by individual components. In this work, we describe SPARK (Simple Platform for Agent-based Representation of Knowledge), a framework for agent-based modeling specifically designed for systems-level biomedical model development. SPARK is a standalone application written in Java. It provides a user-friendly interface, and a simple programming language for developing Agent-Based Models (ABMs). SPARK has the following features specialized for modeling biomedical systems: 1) continuous space that can simulate real physical space; 2) flexible agent size and shape that can represent the relative proportions of various cell types; 3) multiple spaces that can concurrently simulate and visualize multiple scales in biomedical models; 4) a convenient graphical user interface. Existing ABMs of diabetic foot ulcers and acute inflammation were implemented in SPARK. Models of identical complexity were run in both NetLogo and SPARK; the SPARK-based models ran two to three times faster. We are currently utilizing SPARK to develop multi-scale inflammation models in diverse settings such as cancer, viral infection, and spinal cord injury.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSpring Simulation Multiconference 2010, SpringSim'10
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes
Event2010 Spring Simulation Multiconference, SpringSim'10 - Orlando, FL, United States
Duration: 11 Apr 201015 Apr 2010

Publication series

NameSpring Simulation Multiconference 2010, SpringSim'10


Conference2010 Spring Simulation Multiconference, SpringSim'10
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityOrlando, FL


  • Agent-based modeling
  • Biomedical modeling


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