The SciLifeLab Bioinformatics platform (NBIS) and ELIXIR-SE has engaged in the new EU Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) project, BIGPICTURE, to help constructing a new infrastructure needed to accelerate the development of artificial intelligence in medicine.
The new €70 million-project will run for sex years, starting on February 1, and the consortium in charge will consist of leading European research centers, hospitals and major pharmaceutical industries. Plans to maintain and develop the platform after the initial term will be implemented later on.
“We will build upon our experiences from the federated European genome-phenome archive where we established a close collaboration with the Finnish ELIXIR node, CSC. By extending the collaboration with the new SciLifeLab unit AIDA Data Hub we can pave the ground for a new European platform for digital pathology”, says the NBIS director, Bengt Persson (Uppsala University/Karolinska Institutet).
Pathology is an essential science when diagnosing many diseases, such as cancer and autoimmune diseases, as well as for transplantation follow-ups and the evaluation of drug safety. It is based on the examination of tissue samples (slides) under the microscope and relies heavily on the qualitative interpretation made by qualified pathologists.
Computers using artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms, can interpret these slides and assist pathologists to study diseases, find better treatments and contribute to the 3 Rs (replace, reduce, and refine animal use in research).
However, the development of robust AI applications requires large amounts of data, which in the case of pathology means a huge collection of digital slides alongside the medical data necessary for their interpretation. Sharing these has so far remained a challenge due to the data storage capacity required to host a sufficiently large collection and to concerns regarding the confidential character of the medical information.
To allow fast development of AI in pathology, the BIGPICTURE project aims to create the first European, ethical and GDPR-compliant (General Data Protection Regulation), quality-controlled platform, in which both large-scale data and AI algorithms will coexist. The platform will be developed in a sustainable and inclusive way by connecting communities of pathologists, researchers, AI developers, patients, and industry parties.