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MIDRC launches COVID-19 medical image repository, releases first set of images

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | January 27, 2021
CT X-Ray
The MIDRC has made its first set of COVID-19 medical images publicly available
The Medical Imaging and Data Resource Center (MIDRC) has launched a repository of medical imaging data to aid research on COVID-19.

The launch of the repository of imaging data will help enhance medical imaging research on COVID-19. It is expected to be the largest open database of anonymized COVID-19 medical images, along with associated clinical data, in the world. MIDRC also recently released an initial set of COVID-19 medical images in light of the urgency of worldwide pandemic.

“The short-term goal — within the first 6 months — is to obtain and distribute as much curated COVID-19 imaging and associated data to as many people as possible to accelerate needed research and solutions. A synergistic longer-term goal, which can begin in parallel, is to systematically address additional COVID-19 questions by academic researchers and industry,” Dr. Kris Kandarpa, director of research science and strategic directions at the National Institute for Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), part of NIH, told HCB News.

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The initial set of images consists of 120 CT scans from four international sites, and was released in December through the Cancer Imaging Archive, a resource of the National Cancer Institute that traditionally de-identifies and hosts a large archive of cancer images. It is temporarily providing a portion of its archive for COVID-19 related data sets.

The completed repository will include CT and X-rays scans and be a free resource for research and education communities worldwide to use to develop AI and deep-learning tools. It is expected to help monitor for COVID-19 resurgences early; enable triage and differential diagnosis of the virus in patients; help in prognosis, including predictions and monitoring of response, for patient management; and help develop an early warning system for resurgences or similar pandemics, according to Kandarpa. Other uses include biomedical research with radiogenomics, deep learning and predictive modeling, virtual clinical trials, and support of epidemiologic population studies.

The MIDRC is a collaborative effort of medical imaging organizations funded by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB). Its repository is expected to act as a source of answers to clinical questions and help clinicians better understand and integrate discoveries and developments made about the disease into clinical practice.

The release of the initial image set was carried out by the Radiological Society of North America, which previously established the RSNA International COVID-19 Open Radiology Database (RICORD) in mid-2020. An objective of RICORD is to build this source of freely available COVID-19 medical images, and it is currently processing additional contributions to the new data set.

“A much larger set of images is expected to be released in the first quarter of 2021,” said Kandarpa. “MIDRC is a project funded for two years and collection release will be ongoing.”

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