The purpose of the library is to facilitate the use of models of biological systems by providing access to working versions of published models. An interdisciplinary team from Purdue University and the University of Pennsylvania is developing the library. They have expertise in the fields of informational science, library science, biology, modeling, computer science, and networking. The project was initiated using NSF funds and a panel representing users in universities, industry, pharmaceutical companies and Government agencies advised on the library structure, contents and dissemination.
Models can be located and retrieved through the library and then used to explore and test systems through simulation. Models are used widely to study complex biological systems, to represent hypotheses, (circulation in physiology), test theories (effect of enzyme concentration on reaction rate), make predictions (pharmacological response to a drug), design outcomes (calculate intake for optimal growth), and analyze data (calculate rate of substrate movement into cells). Models coalesce a large amount of information and form valuable tools in research and education, but their utility resides in being able to use and manipulate them interactively. Currently there is no centralized way to do this. Models from the fields of metabolism, pharmacokinetics, endocrinology, immunology, physiology, toxicology, and biochemistry are being entered including linear and non-linear, compartmental models. The models are collated, indexed, catalogued, and described mathematically in formats compatible with several widely-used modeling software packages. Users can search and locate models, view graphical and mathematical descriptions of the models, perform limited simulations in the library, or download models to use with their own modeling software.