The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) has become home to The Cancer Imaging Archive of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), with the transfer to UAMS of more than 40 terabytes of data from the archive’s former home at Washington University in St. Louis.
Cancer researchers can use the archive’s data to develop new analysis techniques to advance scientific understanding of cancer, and educators can use it as a teaching tool to introduce students to medical imaging technology and types of cancer. The public can access the archive and see how cancer appears in diagnostic images, as well as learn about the instruments physicians use to diagnose cancer and measure the success of treatment.
The archive moved to UAMS on October 1 with Fred Prior, PhD, when he left his previous position at Washington University to chair the newly established Department of Biomedical Informatics in the UAMS College of Medicine.
Biomedical informatics uses computers rather than traditional laboratories to extract knowledge from large sets of data. The department develops computational tools to assess and manage medical and public health information for patient care and research programs. Research using the archive has produced about 250 academic papers in recent years.
An important area of research that makes intensive use of The Cancer Imaging Archive is computer-based image analysis, or radiomics.
“For instance, we are extracting tens of thousands of data points from one computed tomography scan and then analyzing these image features to identify disease signatures,” Dr. Prior explained. “We are comparing genomic feature sets with the imaging feature sets to try to understand how to identify different disease subtypes that may require different therapies.”
That comparative analysis using biomedical informatics has the potential to greatly speed up the process of choosing the best course of treatment for someone with cancer and improving his or her prognosis. ■