The Initiative aims to accelerate the use of VHTs in health and care for more personalised care. It will provide tangible benefits for citizens and patients, while also sustaining and advancing EU science and technology. Even though VHTs already exist across many Member States, the Initiative will also help to address the current fragmentation across the ecosystem in Europe.
Therefore, a Manifesto, supported by the Commission, signed by more than 76 leading stakeholder organisations from across the entire VHT ecosystem was announced as of 21 December 2023. The Manifesto is a Statement of Intent on the collaborative development of VHTs and their increased adoption across the EU.
Advancing health research and personalised care
VHTs are digital representations of a human health or disease state that refer to different levels of anatomy (e.g. cells, tissues, organs, organ systems). They are built using software models and data and are designed to both mimic and predict behaviour of their physical counterparts, including interaction with additional diseases a person may have.
The key potential in health and care of this technology is related to targeted prevention, tailored clinical pathways, and to supporting healthcare professionals in virtual environments. Examples include medical training, surgical intervention planning, and several other potential use cases in virtual world environments.
The Commission intends to power up advanced supercomputing capacities and artificial intelligence to facilitate collaborative VHT research and technology development. This makes it possible to develop, run and better simulate the models in ways previously not possible, speeding up the development of VHTs through enabling large AI foundational model training specific to human health and diseases.
The European Virtual Human Twins Initiative includes both research and deployment actions:
- The European Virtual Human Twin (EDITH) project, a Coordination and Support Action funded under the DIGITAL programme, and its Roadmap to identify the necessary building blocks to evolve towards integrated VHTs;
- The Virtual Human Twins Manifesto - Statement of Intent on VHTs Development, Evidence, and Adoption in Healthcare Systems;
- 80 million EUR of research and innovation actions under Horizon Europe on “Integrated, multi-scale computational models of patient patho-physiology for personalised disease management”;
- A 24 million EUR state-of-the-art digital platform for advanced virtual human twin models’ integration and validation funded under the Digital Europe Programme (DIGITAL);
- The deployment of a 5 million EUR pan-European federated infrastructure for Intensive Care Units’ (ICU) data and data intensive computational model-based tools for decision support and risk prevention, funded under the Digital Europe Programme (DIGITAL)
It further includes a 20 million EUR funding call under the Innovative Health Initiative (IHI) for actions on comprehensive stroke management with predictive computational models, integrated patient health data, improved visualisation.
In the coming months, the Commission will publish the procurement tender for the state-of-the-art digital platform for advanced virtual human twin models’ integration and validation, as included in the Digital Europe Programme (DIGITAL).