A vision and strategy for the virtual physiological human: 2012 update
European funding under Framework 7 (FP7) for the virtual physiological human (VPH) project has been in place now for 5 years. The VPH Network of Excellence (NoE) has been set up to help develop common standards, open source software, freely accessible data and model repositories, and various training and dissemination activities for the project. It is also working to coordinate the many clinically targeted projects that have been funded under the FP7 calls. An initial vision for the VPH was defined by the FP6 STEP project in 2006. In 2010, we wrote an assessment of the accomplishments of the first two years of the VPH in which we considered the biomedical science, healthcare and information and communications technology challenges facing the project (Hunter et al. 2010 Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 368, 2595-2614 (doi:10.1098/rsta.2010.0048)). We proposed that a not-for-profit professional umbrella organization, the VPH Institute, should be established as a means of sustaining the VPH vision beyond the time-frame of the NoE. Here, we update and extend this assessment and in particular address the following issues raised in response to Hunter et al.: (i) a vision for the VPH updated in the light of progress made so far, (ii) biomedical science and healthcare challenges that the VPH initiative can address while also providing innovation opportunities for the European industry, and (iii) external changes needed in regulatory policy and business models to realize the full potential that the VPH has to offer to industry, clinics and society generally.