Virtual You is a panoramic account of efforts by scientists around the world to build digital twins of human beings, from cells and tissues to organs and whole bodies. These virtual copies will usher in a new era of personalized medicine, one in which your digital twin can help predict your risk of disease, participate in virtual drug trials, shed light on the diet and lifestyle changes that are best for you, and help identify therapies to enhance your well-being and extend your lifespan—but thorny challenges also remain.
In this deeply illuminating book, Peter Coveney and Roger Highfield reveal what it will take to build a virtual, functional copy of a person in five steps. Along the way, they take you on a fantastic voyage through the complexity of the human body, describing the latest scientific and technological advances, from multiscale modeling to extraordinary new forms of computing, that will make “virtual you” a reality, while also considering the ethical questions inherent to realizing truly predictive medicine.
With an incisive foreword by Nobel Prize-winning biologist Venki Ramakrishnan, Virtual You is science at its most astounding, showing how our virtual twins and even whole populations of virtual humans promise to transform our health and our lives in the coming decades.
Peter Coveney is director of the Centre for Computational Science at University College London, professor at the Informatics Institute, University of Amsterdam, and professor adjunct at the Yale School of Medicine. Roger Highfield is science director at the Science Museum Group, a member of the Medical Research Council, and visiting professor at University College London and the Dunn School, University of Oxford. They are the authors of Frontiers of Complexity and The Arrow of Time.
“This timely and highly informative book should be a thought provoker for a large and diverse readership, including the future research leaders and pioneers that will drive this field forward.”—Mark Girolami, University of Cambridge and The Alan Turing Institute
“Virtual You provides a dazzling guide to the frontiers of modern science, from the limits of mathematics, AI, and algorithms to the latest in genetics, deep learning, and quantum computing, to show how digital twins of people will herald a new era of medicine, one that is truly personalized and predictive.”—George Em Karniadakis, Brown University
“Virtual You gives a fascinating and accessible overview of the many global collaborative efforts to create a digital twin of a human being, and looks toward a future where the vision of P4 medicine—predictive, personalized, preventive, and participatory—has become a reality.”—Tony Hey, coauthor of The New Quantum Universe
“Being able to use an individual’s medical and fitness tracker data to make ‘healthcasts’ is a game changer. I can’t wait to see my own virtual human come to digital life!”—Andrea Townsend-Nicholson, University College London
“This stimulating and balanced book argues that biology is both a chemical and informational science, and that building informational models will be critical for the future progress of biology and medicine. This clear, readable account from Peter Coveney and Roger Highfield shows how digital models not only inform how life works, but also how this knowledge can be used to transform how we treat human disease.”—Paul Nurse, Nobel Laureate and Director of the Francis Crick Institute
“The human body is a collection of seven octillion atoms (seven followed by twenty-seven zeros), and if we could simulate their life dance in a computer, we could make predictions about our health. In this visionary book, Coveney and Highfield show how this dream may come true, revealing the science of complexity at its zenith. A must-read for anyone who is curious about the coming revolution in predictive medicine.”—Sauro Succi, Italian Institute of Technology