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Biomedical Informatics, Imaging and Healthcare Technologies Projects

Current projects:

Translational Research and Patient Safety in Europe (TRANSFoRm)
Funders: European Commission
Project Lead: Professor Theo Arvanitis (User and Software Services)

The underlying concept of TRANSFoRm is to develop a ‘rapid learning healthcare system’ driven by advanced computational infrastructure that can improve both patient safety and the conduct and volume of clinical research in Europe.The EU policy framework for information society and media, i2010 identifies eHealth as one of the principal areas where advances in ICT can create better quality of life for Europe’s citizens. ICT has important roles in communication, decision-making, monitoring and learning in the healthcare setting. TRANSFoRm recognises the need to advance the underpinning information and computer science to address these issues in a European and international context.

Professor Arvanitis leads the User and Software Services Work Package - This work package will develop the full set of user interfaces and underlying search tools. These will include a generic method for enabling a dynamic interface for data capture and presentation for clinicians during the consultation and a query formulation and generation tool for researchers and a graphical middleware layer for the presentation of results. This work package will also specify and develop tools to assess data accessibility, data quality, and comparability. Finally, a generic method of preserving and examining the provenance of data within the project will be developed and implemented for application in WP3.
http://www.transformproject.eu

 

Transforming Statistical Methodology for Neuroimaging Meta-Analysis
The Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellowship in Basic Biomedical Science
Funders: The Wellcome Trust
Project Lead: Professor Tom Nichols

This project aims to develop new techniques for sharing Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) data and analysing that shared data. At present, fMRI researchers only share a tiny fraction of the rich datasets they produce. This is due, in part, to tradition, but also to the difficulty in sharing the massive datasets and the multitude of details of each imaging experiment. This research will develop software and standards that will make it easier for researchers to share their data, thus allowing more people to acces data that, in most cases, is funded by public institutions.

 

The Human Brain as a Complex System: Investigating the Relationship between Structural and Functional Networks in the Thalamocortical System
Funders: EPSRC
Project Lead: Professor Theo Arvanitis

The majority of brain functions are performed not by single regions but by the combined, co-ordinated activity of networks distributed throughout the brain. Several neurological and psychiatric disorders may be caused by a breakdown of the ability of these regions to communicate effectively. While several different methods have been developed to understand how the component regions, or nodes, of a network interact, there is no comprehensive framework for combining the information from different techniques to give an overall picture of network function. Without such a framework, advanced in neuroimaging techniques which allow the characterisation of anatomical and functional connections cannot be fully exploited. The purpose of this project is to develop such a framework, making use of intrinsic brain activity which can define well characterised model networks, thereby providing a natural validation of the results.

 

USEFIL: Unobtrusive Smart Environments for Independent Living
Funders: European Commission
Project Lead: Professor Christopher James, Professor Ala Szczepura

The USEFIL project aims to address the gap between technological research advances and the practical needs of elderly people by developing advanced but affordable in-home unobtrusive monitoring and web communication solutions. Morespecifically, USEFIL intends to use low-cost off-the-shelf technology to develop immediately applicable services that will assist the elderly in maintaining their independence and daily activities. Installation of the USEFIL system will not require retrofitting in a person's residence and will be almost invisible once installed.

 

SOLAR-Eclipse computational tools for imaging genetics
Funders: National Institutes of Health
Project Lead: Professor Tom Nichols

This application will provide urgently needed analysis methods to the emerging field of imaging genetics. The focus is to create SOLAR-Eclipse imaging genetics tools for classical genetic and epigenetic epidemiological analyses such as heritability, pleiotropy, quantitative trait loci (QTL) and genome-wide association (GWAS), gene expression and methylation analyses using traits derived from structural and functional brain imaging. The team will also develop intelligent correction for multiple testing that meets both genetic and imaging requirements.

 

Integrated Multimodal Brain Imaging for Neuroscience Research and Clinical Practice
Funders: The Wellcome Trust
Project Lead: Professor Tom Nichols

Advances in neuroimaging have given unprecedented access to in vivo measurements of brain function, structure and connectivity, but the full potential is not being realised due to a lack of suitable analysis tools to explore relationships between, and integrate across, modalities. Our overall goal is to bring multimodal imaging to the forefront of neuroscience and clinical research in order to provide new biomarkers and insights into disease mechanisms, explore ageing and developmental processes, increase the scope for large neuroimaging studies and improve clinical decision support for patients.

Linear and Non-Linear brain changes over the transition to psychosis
Funders: MRC
Professor Tom Nichols

The course of schizophrenia is associated with significant brain changes. Exactly when these changes occur is a matter of some debate, with significant evidence now available for progressive volumetric declines in the early period of the illness (the first 12-24 months after onset). However, there is additional evidence for the decline beginning prior to that, during the prodromal period. What remains unclear is how this decline occurs, whether it is reversible, and to what extent it represents a core feature of the disorder (i.e. it precedes the worsening of symptoms), is an endogenous response to the experience of a psychotic disorder (i.e. it is a reaction to the onset of the illness) and/or is iatrogenic (i.e. it is a result of treatment).