2008 Volume 58 Issue 7 Pages 441-446
The Virtual Physiological Human (VPH) is an initiative, strongly supported by the European Commission (EC), that seeks to develop an integrated model of human physiology at multiple scales from the whole body through the organ, tissue, cell and molecular levels to the genomic level. VPH had its beginnings in 2005 with informal discussions amongst like-minded scientists, which led to the STEP project, a Coordination Action funded by the EC that began in early 2006. The STEP project greatly accelerated the progress of the VPH and proved to be a catalyst for wide-ranging discussions within Europe and for outreach activities designed to develop a broad international approach to the huge scientific and technological challenges involved in this area. This paper provides an overview of the VPH and the developments it has engendered in the rapidly expanding worldwide activities associated with the physiome. It then uses one particular project, the Living Human Project, to illustrate the type of advances that are taking place to further the aims of the VPH and similar initiatives worldwide.