The EuroPhysiome, STEP and a roadmap for the virtual physiological human.
Fenner JW., Brook B., Clapworthy G., Coveney PV., Feipel V., Gregersen H., Hose DR., Kohl P., Lawford P., McCormack KM., Pinney D., Thomas SR., Van Sint Jan S., Waters S., Viceconti M.
Biomedical science and its allied disciplines are entering a new era in which computational methods and technologies are poised to play a prevalent role in supporting collaborative investigation of the human body. Within Europe, this has its focus in the virtual physiological human (VPH), which is an evolving entity that has emerged from the EuroPhysiome initiative and the strategy for the EuroPhysiome (STEP) consortium. The VPH is intended to be a solution to common infrastructure needs for physiome projects across the globe, providing a unifying architecture that facilitates integration and prediction, ultimately creating a framework capable of describing Homo sapiens in silico. The routine reliance of the biomedical industry, biomedical research and clinical practice on information technology (IT) highlights the importance of a tailor-made and robust IT infrastructure, but numerous challenges need to be addressed if the VPH is to become a mature technological reality. Appropriate investment will reap considerable rewards, since it is anticipated that the VPH will influence all sectors of society, with implications predominantly for improved healthcare, improved competitiveness in industry and greater understanding of (patho)physiological processes. This paper considers issues pertinent to the development of the VPH, highlighted by the work of the STEP consortium.