Establishing the European Virtual Physiological Human Institute

empiricaTo provide strong support for both the European Union Virtual Physiological Human (VPH) research initiative and the global "Physiome" community, the process to establish a European VPH Institute has now officially started. The VPH initiative is part of the worldwide public domain effort to provide a computational framework for understanding human physiology. It aims to develop integrative models at all levels of biological organisation, from genes to the whole organism via gene regulatory networks, protein pathways, integrative cell function, and tissue and whole organ structure/function relations. Through its 7th Framework Research Programme (FP7), the European Commission has initiated and facilitated such research.

The idea to establish a VPH Institute dates back to the STEP VPH Research roadmap where it was suggested to establish a European Institute dedicated entirely to the Virtual Physiological Human (VPH). This idea has been re-proposed and expanded in the recent "Vision & Strategy" document of the VPH Network of Excellence, and has received overwhelmingly positive reaction by the research community, with nearly 300 signatures from over 30 countries. The Pro Tempore Board of Directors has now formally entered the formation process, which should be completed before the end of 2010. empirica's Dr. Karl Stroetmann has been asked to join this Board as expert for the clinical and socio-economic impact assessment of VPH Technology.

empirica is a beneficiary to three VPH-related projects:

  • ARGOS eHealth: an EU-USA project, funded by the European Commission’s DG External Relations, for a Transatlantic Observatory for Meeting Global Health Policy Challenges through ICT-Enabled Solutions, focusing as one of three topics on VPH issues
  • NMS-Physiome: A project on tools to develop the NeuroMusculoSkeletal Physiome – VPHOP-SIMBIOS cooperation. EU-funded cooperation of the worldwide largest research projects focusing on simulating the musculoskeletal apparatus, the Osteoporotic Virtual Physiological Human (VPHOP) integrated European project and the Center for Physics-based Simulation of Biological Structures (SIMBIOS) (at Stanford University, USA), funded by the USA National Institutes of Health
  • VPHOP: Osteoporotic Virtual Physiological Human EU FP7 large-scale integrating project: a multiscale modelling and simulation technology will be developed to predict the strength of a patient’s bones, how this strength is likely to change over time, and the probability that he will overload his bones during daily life. The various modelling technologies developed will be assessed in terms of clinical and socio-economic impact and safety on small cohorts of patients enrolled at four different clinical institutions, providing the factual basis for effective clinical and industrial exploitation.

empirica expects to strongly contribute to future endeavours in this fascinating research field and thereby also to help guide its outcomes towards realistic and beneficial clinical applications.

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About empirica
empirica Communication and Technology Research is a private research institute founded in 1988 and based in Bonn, Germany. It specialises in communication and information technology related research and consultancy to clients in both the private and public sector. Its body of ex-pertise ranges from long-term RTD roadmapping, policy and strategy development to pilot trials and EU-wide representative market research. The company has gained a strong profile in the practical development, pilot-testing and market validation of IST-based healthcare services. It observes and interprets market trends and evaluates the socio-economic impact of eHealth ap-plications. In addition, it regularly conducts foresight exercises, representative surveys and compiles data bases of good practice case studies with the support of a dense network of con-tacts in government, industry and academia. For further information, please visit www.empirica.com.

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