June 1, 2010 (Vol. 30, No. 11)


Strong Points: Nice tutorials, software offers a number of ways to construct models
Weak Points: None


Even though science is very interdisciplinary by nature, let’s face it—we all have our niche, and we generally stick to what we know. Therefore, it is a pleasure to discover an online tool that brings mathematicians and theoretical biologists together with cell biologists. Using a web-based Java interface, the Virtual Cell (VCell) software allows one to construct complex models of cells in order to simulate various aspects of cell biology. You can construct the model by adding biological features and descriptions or by mathematical formulas. In both cases, the software automatically generates one set of parameters (math or biological description) from the other. (Don’t worry, if this sounds intimidating, there is a wonderful “quick start guide,” which describes how to work with the different models and simulations, as well as a number of other tutorials.)

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