Published online 20 February 2008 | Nature 451, 879 (2008) | doi:10.1038/451879c

News in Brief

Systems biologists hatch plan for virtual human

Researchers in the fledgling field of systems biology have laid down the challenge of creating a molecule-based computational model of a person that could be of use to the pharmaceutical industry.

The 'virtual human' would simulate the interactions between the tens of thousands of human proteins and other cellular components, such as non-coding RNA. Researchers agreed to try to create such a model within the next 30 years at a three-day workshop in Tokyo earlier this month.

If the plan goes ahead, it would require the development of new technologies and collaborations between researchers from different countries and disciplines, says Hiroaki Kitano, director of the Systems Biology Institute in Tokyo. Kitano hopes that the ambitious goal will help win support from Japanese and UK funding bodies for research into systems biology. 

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