The Virtual Liver will be a dynamic mathematical model that represents, rather than fully replicates human liver physiology, morphology and function, integrating quantitative data from all levels of organisation, from sub-cellular levels to the whole organ.
The model will be composed of those pathways, networks and functions, the details of which are necessary and sufficient to generate a dynamic view of liver function, validated in the context of whole organ function and anatomy, and capable of generating experimentally testable predictions that are relevant to the physiology of the liver, as well as the function of the organism, and how this is disturbed in disease.
To produce a validated computer representation of human liver physiology that can be used as a model of the whole organ in health and disease, with the specific aim of improving understanding of the dynamics underpinning its complex functions and applying this to support clinical practice.
Since its beginning in April 2010, the Virtual Liver Network has engaged ground breaking areas of Systems Biology in a coordinated and focused attempt to show that modelling and simulation can help tackle the challenges of understanding the dynamics of biological complexity. This has created a strong foundation for multiscale modelling within the German Systems Biology research community that, over the coming years, hopefully will contribute to the creation of an infrastructure that adopts these approaches routinely as part of the establishment and eventual practice of Systems Medicine. To this end, our focus will continue to be on reinforcing our connections with clinical practitioners, regulatory agencies and the relevant biomedical industries to ensure that our research focus remains relevant. We will continue to reinforce our existing external associations with European networks such as “CASyM (Concerted Action on Systems Medicine) and ISBE (Infrastructure for Systems Biology in Europe), and the international Virtual Physiological Human Institute initiative, and look to establish others both in Europe and beyond.
In maintaining our focus on the core research objectives, we will not lose sight of the need to ensure that our studies are understandable to the non-specialist, and that the work is communicated clearly and effectively to the broadest audience using all appropriate media methods, including the delivery of an informative web portal.