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Warwick awarded £2.3 million to help develop cutting-edge technologies for cancer diagnosis and personalised treatment

  • · A unique data resource of cancer images and artificial intelligence (AI) techniques will be developed, led by Professor Nasir Rajpoot of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Warwick - as part of a £15.7m project with £10m funding awarded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) for the PathLAKE project.
  • · The University of Warwick researchers will work together with University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust and Royal Philips to create a national centre of excellence in AI in pathology, linked to five digitised NHS pathology labs.
  • · The cutting-edge technologies will assist pathologists in diagnosing cancer more efficiently and selecting the optimal treatment for cancer patients – which could bring an end to the ‘limbo’ of waiting for a diagnosis.

Greg Clark, UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), will confirm today (Tuesday 6 November) that UK Research and Innovation will invest £10 million in the PathLAKE project as part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

The University of Warwick has been awarded £2.3 million of the funding, and will work with partners and experts at the lead partner University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, Royal Philips and teaching hospitals and universities at Belfast, Oxford and Nottingham in the three-year project, focussing on breast, prostate lung and colon cancers.

The aim is to significantly speed up the time in which cancer is diagnosed and treated, by using Innovative solutions in digital pathology and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The PathLAKE (Pathology image data Lake for Analytics, Knowledge and Education.) consortium aims to meet the ‘Data to Early Diagnosis and Precision Medicine Challenge’ through two high-impact exemplar projects. Firstly, by embedding and demonstrating the diagnostic efficiencies of computer aided testing of pathology samples. Secondly, by developing novel AI tools to support advanced identification of predictive chemotherapy response markers for personalised medicine and markers of disease progression in disease surveillance.

Working ethically within stringent regulatory and industry standards, a unique data resource comprising of large number of pathology images will provide a foundation archive to support exemplar projects in AI based diagnostic efficiency and optimal treatment selection. These images and tools will be made available across the consortium partners, which includes Philips, Nvidia and four SMEs (Small and medium-sized enterprises – independent firms) in Perspectum, Oxford Cancer Biomarkers, Glencoe Software and Sonrai to support the development of a burgeoning UK digital health industry. The consortium will also provide the backbone of a network for multi-site clinical trials and further advanced research projects to provide world-class training and education to the pathology and computer science communities. 

Professor Nasir Rajpoot, head of the Tissue Image Analytics laboratory at the University of Warwick, will be leading the computational arm of the centre, comments:

 “We are thrilled by the news of this award. The PathLAKE centre of excellence will play a leading role in the development, validation and implementation of AI in cellular pathology. The centre data lake will be an invaluable resource for AI researchers and UK based SMEs, enabling the development of cutting-edge AI algorithms for cellular pathology as well as capturing and revealing trends and patterns in the pathology image data for better understanding of disease and improved provision of patient healthcare.”

Professor David Snead from University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust comments:

“Increasing access to a vast amount of image information and applying analysis of the kind that PathLAKE will deliver will move diagnostic evaluation to new depths. These technologies will be key to our understanding and utilisation of clinical information. The knowledge PathLAKE will unlock, both in the short and long-term future, will completely change cancer care in the NHS while embedding a world-leading life-sciences and technology sector in our health system.”

Peter Hamilton, Head of Research, Philips Digital and Computational Pathology comments:

“Pathology is central to ensuring accurate diagnosis for patients with diseases such as cancer, and in determining the precise course of action. However, our aging population, with rapidly rising sample requirements and increasing case complexity, are placing ongoing pressures on a workforce, which is itself aging. This creates challenges to ensuring early diagnosis and precision therapies and requires urgent attention, so we are delighted the UK government recognises the potential that digitisation and AI could bring to pathology. We are excited to play a part in helping the UK to take a leading role in the development and delivery of these new technologies that can improve patient outcomes and re-invigorate the workforce. With PathLAKE our aim is realise large scale AI-driven cancer analysis, we see this as a significant step toward realising the true potential of personalised medicine and supporting the NHS.”

UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive Professor Sir Mark Walport said:

“Early diagnosis of illness can greatly increase the chances of successful treatment and save lives. The centres announced today bring together the teams that will develop artificial intelligence tools that can analyse medical images varying from x-rays to microscopic sections from tissue biopsies. Artificial intelligence has the potential to revolutionise the speed and accuracy of medical diagnosis.”

Business Secretary Greg Clark said:

“AI has the potential to revolutionise healthcare and improve lives for the better. That’s why our modern Industrial Strategy puts pioneering technologies at the heart of our plans to build a Britain fit for the future.
The innovation at these new centres will help diagnose disease earlier to give people more options when it comes to their treatment, and make reporting more efficient, freeing up time for our much-admired NHS staff time to spend on direct patient care.”




“Oxford Cancer Biomarkers is delighted to be part of the successful PathLAKE bid. We are very excited about the opportunity to deploy ColoProgTM technology into the NHS to improve prognosis and treatment for Stage II colorectal cancers as part of the project” Professor David Kerr, CBE. Co-Founder OCB.

About ColoProg and OCB:
Oxford Cancer Biomarkers is a personalised medicine company with a goal to enable early detection of cancer risk and to dramatically improve the precision of cancer treatment. OCB achieves this by applying platforms that incorporate biomarker-based technology from its R&D teams and partners, to integrate information, bringing enhanced certainty to decision-making in cancer diagnosis, prognosis and treatment. ColoProg uses digital pathology to assess the risk of recurrence of Stage II colorectal cancer tumours and is already available in China. The first product to be launched in the UK is ToxNav®, a 21 SNP germline assay that predicts individuals’ propensity to develop life-threatening adverse reactions from 5FU/capecitabine chemotherapy. The company is working with academic partners to develop a population-based genome test for the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer. Oxford Cancer Biomarkers is closely affiliated with The University of Oxford, where its founders lead research groups focused on translational cancer science.

About Royal Philips

Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) is a leading health technology company focused on improving people's health and enabling better outcomes across the health continuum from healthy living and prevention, to diagnosis, treatment and home care. Philips leverages advanced technology and deep clinical and consumer insights to deliver integrated solutions. Headquartered in the Netherlands, the company is a leader in diagnostic imaging, image-guided therapy, patient monitoring and health informatics, as well as in consumer health and home care. Philips generated 2017 sales of EUR 17.8 billion and employs approximately 74,000 employees with sales and services in more than 100 countries.

About United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI)

UKRI is a new body which works in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish. We aim to maximise the contribution of each of our component parts, working individually and collectively. We work with our many partners to benefit everyone through knowledge, talent and ideas.
Operating across the whole of the UK with a combined budget of more than £6 billion, UK Research and Innovation brings together the seven Research Councils, Innovate UK and a new organisation, Research England.


Alice Scott, Media Relations Manager - Science
University of Warwick
Tel: 02476574255 or 07920531221


Alice Scott, Media Relations Manager - Science

University of Warwick

Tel: 02476574255 or 07920531221

E-mail: alice dot j dot scott at warwick dot ac dot uk