European project to assemble a virtual human body to aid medical
6 July 2009
The Virtual Physiological Human (VPH) is a pan-European project that
aims to create a methodological and technological framework to deliver
patient-specific computer models for the personalised and predictive
healthcare of the future.
Once established, it will allow a wide range of academic, clinical
and industrial researchers to investigate the human body as a single
complex system. They will be able to use the VPH network’s expanding
database of computer simulation data to develop better diagnosis and
Researchers at The University of Nottingham have been charged with
developing a postgraduate VPH training programme that will be
cross-disciplinary and will involve periods of study for this kind of
collaborative scientist at universities across Europe.
A study group investigated one aspect of VPH science last week when
mathematicians and medical researchers worked together to use
mathematical modelling to suggest solutions to currently unsolved
Study groups are workshops promoting the interaction between
modellers and academic and industrial researchers working within life
sciences. The latter two are invited to present technical problems for
study in intensive workshops with leading mathematical modellers from
the academic community.
The groups tried to model various problems relating to regenerative
medicine, with a focus on epithelial (membrane) cells in the skin,
bladder, lungs, gut, heart and breast. The development of new
theoretical models could result in journal publications, and eventually
funded research projects in their own right.
Dr Bindi Brook of the University’s School of Mathematical Sciences
said: “This study group is one of the prototypes for the sort of
collaborative study which will be a key feature of our new VPH training
programme. The course will allow postgraduates to train within the VPH
network of European universities and, crucially, to access and
contribute to a virtual VPH academy online.”
The Virtual Physiological Human is a €72
million initiative funded by the EU. It could revolutionise medical
science in the 21st century. Central to its success will be to maximise
the return from the vast quantities of patient-specific data that is
emerging in the post-genomic era.
Advances in computing and information technology have the potential
to deliver tailored clinical treatments based on simulation of the
genetic profile of the patient. And this is not just a long-term goal.
It’s expected that substantial advances in this field will be made over
the next ten years in a range of diseases, from cancer to HIV/AIDS.
The University of Nottingham, with the Municipal Institute of Medical
Investigation in Barcelona, is launching a new VPH training programme
over the next year and aims to start recruiting the first students in
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