The origins: the STEP VPH Research roadmap
The idea to create a permanent, no-profit organisation for the VPH initiative was first proposed in VPH Research roadmap. In 2007 the STEP consortium published a consensus document entitled “Seeding the EuroPhysiome: A Roadmap to the Virtual Physiological Human.” In this foundational document it was suggested the possibility to establish a European Institute entirely dedicated to the Virtual Physiological Human. This was seen as a mean to ensure longevity to the community of practice which was established with the STEP Action and is currently running with the VPH Network of Excellence (VPH NoE).
VPH NoE vision and Strategy 2009
This idea was re-proposed and expanded in the STEP roadmap 2009 update entitled “A Vision and Strategy for the VPH in 2010 and beyond”, where a concrete implementation plan was proposed, with the following time line: “We expect to have the pro tempore board formed by the end of 2010, and the draft statute by the end of 2011, and the VPH institute fully operational in 2012, with at least one year of overlapping with some VPH projects funded in Call 2, including the VPH NoE, which will ensure a smooth handover”.
Following the mandate of the VPH NoE, a public petition was organised on Biomed Town to verify the support of the VPH community to the creation of this institute. A public petition in support to the creation of a European VPH Institute was launched in December 2009. Nearly 300 experts from over 30 countries have signed this petition, clearly expressing their support to this idea.
Pro Tempore Board is appointed
On March 2010 nine “probi viri”, experts of international fame representing many countries and research sub-domains, were invited to from a Pro Tempore Board, that was publicly announced on 27-3-2010. These nine experts were invested with a very limited mandate: to elaborate a draft statute for the Institute, to be submitted to the public discussion, and then used as a basis for the incorporation. A public memo entitled “VPH Institute: the European think-tank on future health technology” that details the steps of the constitution process was also circulated.
Draft statute open to public revision
In late August 2010 the Pro Tempore Board completed its mandate by submitting to public revision the draft statute of the VPH Institute. The document (version 5) was left open for comments for a month, and presented in detail at the 2010 VPH Consensus Meeting in Brussels.
VPH Consensus Meeting in Brussels
At the 2010 VPH Consensus Meeting the incorporation of the VPH Institute was discussed in detail. The draft statute was presented, with specific reference to types of membership and the governance model. It was agreed that for the first year up to ten institutions will be accepted as founding supporting partners, in order to kick-start the institute, and launch the general membership. Comments and observations were factored in the version 6 of the draft statute.
Call for founding supporting members
On October 2010 a Call for founding supporting members for the VPH Institute was sent via the VPH News email channel to over 10,000 unique recipients. Preliminary expressions of interest were received from 18 institutions; of them 10 submitted the formal commitment letter before the deadline, and were invited as Founding Supporting Members.
Support and networking actions give mandate to the Institute
Replying to a request for clarification the coordinators of the actions VPH NoE, VPH-FET, and ARGOS, agree on a strategic positioning of the various road-mapping exercises in the are of VPH, and state: “With respect to FP8, we delegate to the VPH Institute, the not-for-profit organisation that is being established as a permanent representative of the VPH community, the responsibility for elaborating a formal recommendation relative to the continuation of VPH research, possibly in collaboration with industrial and professional organisations”.
VPH NoE vision and Strategy 2010
In the 2010 update, entitled “A Vision and Strategy for the VPH", the mission and vision of the VPH institute” were defined. The document also recommended that one of the first initiatives of the VPH Institute was to form an International Board, to which the VPH Institute is expected to provide the secretariat.
VPH Netherlands is formed
Following the discussion at the European level the VPH-NL National group was established.
On 24 March 2011 representatives of the ten founding supporting member institutions met in Leuven (BE) for the Constitution Meeting. The final version of the statute was translated in Flemish, and submitted for incorporation according to the procedures set by the Belgian law.
On May 16th, 2011 the incorporation process was completed; the VPH Institute is now a legal entity.
On June 1st, 2011 the VPH Institute formally opens the 2011 membership campaign, and start to operate.