Virtual Liver

Project Image:
Title of the project:
Virtual Liver
A dynamic mathematical model of the liver
Project leader:
Dr. Thomas Joos
Project funding:
  • Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)
Project management:
  • Projektträger Jülich (PTJ)
Funding reference number:

A dynamic mathematical model of the liver is intended to advance research into liver functions and diseases.


The Virtual Liver Project
The aim of the Virtual Liver Project is to generate a model of the liver which will help to elucidate many aspects of liver function and disease unknown so far. Since the final goal is to have one model describing crucial aspects of liver function and its aberration on several scales, all work in the project is to a large extend one concerted effort. Still, one has to define units (projects) and an organisational structure that make this huge consortium manageable. As discussed below in more detail, we selected those processes that according to current understanding have to be analysed and integrated to render a complete picture w.r.t. to the above mentioned functions. These processes are modeled in submodules based on experimental data. The data collection itself is possible only due to the prior work of HepatoSys which enables us to reproducibly deal with primary liver cells. Futhermore, new ways to deal with these cells (e.g. RNAi) will enable us to perform those manipulations that are necessary to provide the demanded data for the computational models. This also requires modern imaging technologies. Experts will work on established disease models and will ensure the complementarity between in vitro and in vivo models. The respective computational models arising from these efforts represent modules that will successively be integrated within the respective scale and across the scales into one model of the Virtual Liver as described below. Experimental validation of both the modules as well as of the resulting integrated model will be used as means to verify the success of the project. Following this strategy, we decided to conduct the research through workpackages focusing on different scales, the cellular level, cellcell communication, the liver lobule level and the whole organ level. In addition, one workpackage focuses on the integration of the derived models, one on the data management and one on a clinical translation of the results.
In each work package normal liver function and the aberrant states are investigated to yield a computational description containing the relevant processes at this scale and the description of the aberrations as perturbation of the healthy state. At the same time, we will answer many unsolved questions concerning liver biochemistry, physiology and disease during this process.