Physiological models are sometimes referred to as "diseased models". They describe the actual physiology of a disease or in some cases of a healthy person.
Often a physiological model focuses on a single organ, e.g. heart model, or a single disease, e.g. diabetes model. The mathematical frameworks underlying these models range from complex partial differential equations to simple state-based Markov models.
Other notable applications of physiological models include:
- pharmacokinetic models, which study the distribution of drug in the body following drug administration
- pharmacodynamic models, which study the biochemical and physiological effects of drugs on the body
These models (mostly based on ordinary differential equations) are widely used in the pharmaceutical industry.
One of the most ambitious attempts to bring together different physiological models is the Physiome Project. The Physiome Project, supported by the the National Simulation Resource at the University of Washington Department of Bioengineering, is more than just a database of all quantitative models relevant to human physiology. First, it collects information at multiple scales, ranging from the smallest scale (i.e. genome, proteome, cell) to the scale of organs . Then, it integrates information, by supplying quantitative descriptions of relationships and interactions within and between different components, together with parameters for different cells , tissues and organs. It is believed such approach will take advantage of international scientific collaboration and change how we think about physiology.