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Data management and new simulation methods for the virtual liver

Researchers at the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS) are part of the national "Virtual Liver Network" initiated and financed by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

In 2010, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) launched a unique research consortium: The German Virtual Liver Network, a systems biology approach to liver function and physiology. The aim of the network is to replicate the whole liver and its functions in a computer model. 70 groups from 41 German institutes are involved in the project, including two groups of researchers from the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS).

The Molecular and Cellular Modelling (MCM) group, led by Dr. Rebecca Wade, develops and uses simulation methods that allow the investigation of the interactions between signal transduction pathways and endocytosis. Endocytosis is a process by which cells absorb small food particles and other substances from outside the cell by engulfing them with their cell membrane. The simulations focus mainly on the interactions of proteins and protein-membrane systems.

The Scientific Databases and Visualization (SDBV) group, led by Dr. Wolfgang Müller, is involved in two subprojects where it focuses predominantly on data management: the scientists are developing a platform to administer data, models and work processes obtained in the collaborative projects. All researchers of the Virtual Liver Network have access to this platform. The second project is run in cooperation with the MCM group to find solutions enabling the storage, retrieval and analysis of kinetic data. The group brings into this project its know-how from SABIO-RK, a web-based application developed at the HITS and used by researchers around the world that contains information on reaction kinetics. The subproject also focuses on expanding SABIO-RK.

Wolfgang Müller is also the coordinator of the Data Management work package, one of a total of nine work packages dealt with by the interdisciplinary consortium.

The BMBF will provide around 43 million euros in funding for the project over the next five years. The Virtual Liver Network is the only research network of its kind in the world to be funded by a single national organisation in the field of systems biology. The aim of the network is to gain a better understanding of processes in the liver in order to enable the future development of drugs that are accurately tailored to the requirements of the patients.

The Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS) was established in January 2010. It is a successor to EML Research gGmbH, whose research activities HITS will continue on a broader basis. Supported with funds from the Klaus Tschira Foundation (www.klaus-tschira-stiftung.de), HITS carries out basic research in various fields of the natural sciences, mathematics and computer sciences. The main focus is theory and model development in which computer-assisted simulation and data analysis play a key role. HITS will eventually consist of around 10 research groups dealing with a broad range of fields, including theoretical biochemistry, molecular biomechanics, scientific databases, computer linguistics, theoretical astrophysics, medical statistics, etc. Dr. h.c. Klaus Tschira and Prof. Dr.-Ing. Andreas Reuter are the managing directors of HITS gGmbH.

Further information:
Dr. Rebecca Wade
Group Leader
Molecular and Cellular Modelling Group
Tel.: +49 6221 533 247
E-mail: rebecca.wade(at)h-its.org

Priv.-Doz. Dr. Wolfgang Müller
Group Leader
Scientific Databases and Visualization Group
Tel.: +49 6221 533 231
E-mail: wolfgang.mueller(at)h-its.org 

Website address: https://www.gesundheitsindustrie-bw.de/en/article/press-release/data-management-and-new-simulation-methods-for-the-virtual-liver