General Public

Virtual Humans

Our bodies are exquisitely complex machines, getting the best out them and fixing their problems is a challenge that we seek to master, all of us. So, how can we get the best out of our bodies? Imagine a virtual human, not made of flesh and bone, one made of bits and bytes and not just any human, but a virtual version of you, accurate at every scale from the way your heart beats down to the letters of your DNA code.

Many drugs only work well on some people and can cause serious side effects in others. The reason is variations in DNA, our genetic differences. We understand how these DNA differences change the building blocks of your body, the proteins, and so through a virtual human we could simulate in a computer how drugs interact with your unique protein makeup. By testing drugs on your virtual body, your doctor may eventually be able to test a wide range of drugs and select precisely the right one to suit you.

Virtual humans could help doctors to plan risky surgery too they could be used to work out how to reach an aneurysm deep in the brain that is at risk of rupture, which could cause a stroke. Surgeons can then try out the best treatment or implant to suit the location and shape of that particular aneurysm, they could even double-check that the implant would not cause problems such as clotting before they try it out on you.

With the power of virtual humans, the medical possibilities are limitless. For these and more examples, check out our video embedded below.

In the first year of the CompBioMed Centre of Excellence, we worked hard to collect computer simulations from our researchers to produce this stunning film which explains the ultimate goal of our project. The film was premiered at the London Science Museum on 27th September 2017 during a Lates event.

Computational Biomedicine

Computational biomedicine is the name given to the use of computer-based tools and approaches to simulate and model the human body in health and disease. In the European Union, this new science has become synonymous with the concept of the virtual physiological human (VPH), an initiative that focuses on a methodological and technological framework that, once established, will enable collaborative investigation of the human body as a single complex system.


CompBioMed is a European Commission H2020 funded Centre of Excellence focused on the use and development of computational methods for biomedical applications. We have users within academia, industry and clinical environments and are working to train more people in the use of our products and methods.

The cutting edge of Computational Biomedicine harnesses computer simulations that are conducted on massively powerful supercomputers. The tremendous power of these machines allows larger and more complex biological systems to be simulated, yielding better, more accurate, and more meaningful output. CompBioMed is working with some of the world’s largest supercomputers, including the largest of them all, Summit.

To find and more and to keep up to date with CompBioMed, please visit and follow our Twitter Account and YouTube channel.

Featured Videos

Promotional films before the screening of Virtual Humans film were made featuring an interview with Peter Coveney, Coordinator of CompBioMed (left video), and the 4 principle investigators that spoke during the launch of the film (right video). The interviews were undertaken with Roger Highfield (Director of external affairs at the Science Museum)

We have also been featured on EuroNews in August 2020:

Here our Technical Manager, Marco Verdicchio, explains the theory and practice of using Supercomputers.

Virtual Humans – film festivals

Since it’s release the film has been featured at international film festivals and won a number of awards.

News Feed

  • New book Virtual You stars at major literary festivals - A recording of the authors of Virtual You at the Hay Festival of Literature & Arts has been released as it has been recommended by the Financial Times as one of the best science books to read this summer. Before a packed audience on Hay’s Wye Stage, Peter Coveney of UCL and Roger Highfield of the…
  • CompBioMed Newsletter Issue 12 – Out Now - The latest issue of the CompBioMed Newsletter is now available, addressing the upcoming CompBioMed Conference 2023, the book Virtual You, the CompBioMed film Virtual Pandemics, our scalability service, and biomedical urgent computing in the exascale era. Click here to view it. To find our other newsletter, follow this link.
  • CompBioMed at Le Studium Conference on Cardiovascular Modelling - CompBioMed will be at the Le Studium Conference on “Cardiovascular Modelling: Basic Science to Clinical Translation” to be held in Tours (France) on 13th and 14th December 2022. The symposium is being organised, managed and sponsored by the Le Studium Institute for Advanced Studies – Loire Valley and the INSERM Unit iBrain Imagerie et Cerveau.…
  • UCL and Sheffield demystify HPC for Biomedical Researchers – winning praise at SC’20 - More than 350 people attended the virtual presentation at Supercomputing 2020 featuring the work done in remote training in the QIIME2 application by consortia members, UCL and the University of Sheffield. This project, which took place over a 4-month period with a 6-week live course, introduced medical students into HPC. Led by Andrea Townsend-Nicholson of…
  • CompBioMed featured on Futuris programme of EuroNews - We’d like to announce that our work has been featured in the EuroNews programming within the Futuris section looking at the latest news about the leading scientific and technological research projects in Europe. Project Coordinator, Peter Coveney as well as Andrea Townsend-Nicholson were interviewed from UCL, and Dieter Kranzlmüller and Gerald Mathias were interviewed from…