UCL News


Press cutting: The virtual medical man

31 October 2006

Soon it might be possible to do routine experiments on the ultimate living doll without going to jail, without causing a moment's suffering and without a twinge of conscience.

Current testing methods depend on cadavers, animals and people, all of which raise profound social and ethical issues.

Next week … hundreds of experts from all over the world will meet at the Université Libre de Bruxelles to discuss the virtual physiological human, or VPH, which aims to integrate efforts to model the workings of organs in a computer to create a virtual body. Among the consortium are a handful of British universities - Bedfordshire, Sheffield, Oxford, Nottingham and London (UCL). …

Underpinning the VPH is the next generation of computer infrastructure, the Grid, which will eventually enable users to plug into raw super-computing power as easily as we now get electricity through a socket, commented Professor Peter Coveney [UCL Computer Science].

In the case of the VPH, the Grid will help far-flung labs to collaborate and ensure that their computer models are constantly nourished with clinical data, medical images, biomedical measurements and laboratory observations collected in hospitals and research institutes across Europe. These will help test and hone computer models of the body and its intricate subsystems.

Roger Highfield, 'The Daily Telegraph'