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Useful terms

Useful terms

Airway disease

This is a general term for all diseases of the airways, including the lungs.


From the Greek ásthma, meaning panting. An inflammatory disease where airflow obstruction and bronchospasm regularly occur. It is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.


This is the application of concepts and methods of physics, chemistry, mathematics and computer science to help solve problems in bioscience.


A group of people that have shared a particular experience over a particular time period, i.e. a group of asthma patients in a research study.

Computational models

This is a mathematical model that requires significant computing power to study the behaviour of a complex system using computer simulation.

COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)

This is any form of long term obstruction in the lungs. It is a general term that includes Chronic Bronchitis and pulmonary emphysema.

CT scan

A Computer Tomography scan that uses X-Rays to create an image of the body’s structure.

Gas diffusion MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

An image of gas diffusing is created using a magnetic resonance machine. This allows us to see what is actually happening within the lungs in terms of the flow and distribution of air or gases.


Genetics refers to the molecular structure and the function of genes within a particular cell or organism. This includes patterns of inheritance. Genes were originally described as ‘discreet units of inheritance’. We now know that they are composed of DNA strands and that it is often the combination of genes that creates an inheritance effect.


This means the incidence of disease or poor health among a population or the degree of poor health of an individual.


The number of deaths in a given population.

Personalised treatment

This means tailoring treatments to better fit the individual patient’s needs, such as their response to medication. The increased use of this term reflects recent genetic advances which have allowed treatments to be optimised on an individual basis.


This is the study of how biological systems function.

Systems biology

This term describes a movement in bioscience which attempts to draw on all relevant biological systems to help with specific bioscience research. It is an inter-disciplinary field within biology itself.