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Trends Cell Biol. 2003 Nov;13(11):570-6.

Quantitative cell biology with the Virtual Cell.

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  • 1Center For Biomedical Imaging Technology and National Resource for Cell Analysis and Modeling, Department of Physiology, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT 06030, USA.


Cell biological processes are controlled by an interacting set of biochemical and electrophysiological events that are distributed within complex cellular structures. Computational models, comprising quantitative data on the interacting molecular participants in these events, provide a means for applying the scientific method to these complex systems. The Virtual Cell is a computational environment designed for cell biologists, to facilitate the construction of models and the generation of predictive simulations from them. This review summarizes how a Virtual Cell model is assembled and describes the physical principles underlying the calculations that are performed. Applications to problems in nucleocytoplasmic transport and intracellular calcium dynamics will illustrate the power of this paradigm for elucidating cell biology.

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