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The NIH uses AI to diagnose, treat, and monitor COVID-19


Wednesday, August 5, 2020

A collaborative network to incorporate medical images and clinical data to reveal the unique characteristics of COVID-19.

The National Institutes of Health has launched the Center for Medical Images and Data (MIDRC), an ambitious effort to harness the power of artificial intelligence and medical imaging to combat COVID-19. The multi-institutional collaboration led by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), part of the NIH, will create new tools that physicians can use for early detection and personalized therapies for patients with COVID-1


“This program is particularly exciting because it will give us new ways to quickly turn scientific discoveries into practical diagnostic tools that benefit patients with COVID-19,” says Bruce J. Tromberg, Ph.D., Director of NIBIB. “It brings together leaders in medical imaging and artificial intelligence from academia, professional societies, industry and government to meet this important challenge.”

The characteristics of infected lungs and hearts observed on medical images can help to assess the severity of the disease, predict the response to treatment and improve patient outcomes. The main challenge, however, is the rapid and accurate identification of these signatures and the evaluation of this information in combination with many other clinical symptoms and tests. The objectives of MIDRC are to guide the development and implementation of new diagnostics, including machine learning algorithms, that will allow rapid and accurate assessment of disease status and help physicians optimize patient treatment.

“This effort will bring together a large repository of COVID-19 chest images,” explained Dr. Guoing Liu, NIBIB’s research program leading the effort, “which allows researchers to evaluate lung and heart tissue data, to set critical research questions and the development of predictable signatures for COVID-19 images that can be delivered to healthcare providers.

Maryellen L. Giger, MD, Professor of Radiology AN Pritzker, Committee on Medical Physics at the University of Chicago, leads the efforts of co-researchers Etta Pisano and Dr. Michael Tilkin of the American College of Radiology (ACR), Curtis Langlotz, MD, and Dr. Adam Flanders, representing the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), and Paul Kinahan, Ph.D. from the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM).

“This major initiative responds to the expressed unmet need for an international imaging community from a secure technology network to enable the development and ethical application of artificial intelligence to make the best medical decisions for COVID-19 patients,” added Dr. Krishna Kandarpa, d.m. ., Director of Research and Strategic Areas at NIBIB. “Ultimately, the approaches developed can take advantage of other conditions.”

MIDRC will facilitate the rapid and flexible collection, analysis and dissemination of images and related clinical data. The collaboration between ACR, RSNA and AAPM is based on each organization’s unique and complementary expertise within the medical imaging community and each organization’s commitment to image quality, security, access and sustainability.

For the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB): NIBIB’s mission is to improve health by leading the development and accelerating the application of biomedical technologies. The institute is committed to integrating engineering and physical science with biology and medicine to improve our understanding of the disease and its prevention, detection, diagnosis and treatment. NIBIB supports emerging technological research and development within its in-house laboratories and through grants, cooperation and training. More information can be found on the NIBIB website https://www.nibib.nih.gov.

For National Institutes of Health (NIH):
The NIH, the National Agency for Medical Research, includes 27 institutes and centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The NIH is the main federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research and investigating the causes, treatment, and treatment of both common and rare diseases. For more information about the NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

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