The Virtual Liver Network is made up of seventy research group distributed across Germany, and is establishing links with research groups and international initiatives to supplement its work. The research effort is divided essentially into three major areas of focus:

  • The Liver Cell: These teams are concentrating on mapping and defining the functions that take place within the cells in the liver, and using this information to develop mathematical and computational models representing them.
  • Beyond the Cell: Here, research groups consider the mechanisms that are involved in helping individual cells "talk" to each other, coordinating the more complex interactions necessary within organised tissues to establish the basic functions of the liver, with the objective of delivering models representing tissue-level activity.
  • Integration and Translation: The most challenging part of the programme is establishing methods to integrate the models across all these different levels of liver organisation and function, so called multi-scale modelling which has not yet been achieved in Systems Biology, and translating this work to clinically relevant applications.