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Oxford University, IBM and UK Government to Build Massive Computing Grid for Breast Cancer Screening and Diagnosis

Oxford University, IBM and UK Government to Build Massive Computing Grid for Breast Cancer Screening and Diagnosis

Published 10-11-02

Submitted by IBM

OXFORD, England and ARMONK, NewYork - Oxford University has joined with IBM and the UK Government to build a sophisticated computing Grid that will enable early screening and diagnosis of breast cancer, and provide medical professionals with more information to help treat the disease.

The project, which represents an investment of approximately $6 million jointly by IBM and the UK, has been named "eDiamond" by Oxford researchers and is part of the UK government's eScience initiative. eDiamond will be the first Grid built entirely with commercially available technology, including a first-of-its-kind software developed by Mirada Solutions to standardize new and existing digital mammogram images. This capability will help radiologists accurately compare and evaluate mammography scans stored on eDiamond, no matter where or when they were created. eDiamond is expected to create a new model for assembling computing and data storage infrastructures for scanning, storing and analyzing mammograms.

"I am delighted this collaboration between leading academics, IBM, and Mirada, funded jointly by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and IBM, has led to the development of a project that could have such a direct benefit to society, said Lord Sainsbury, UK minister for Science. "The eDiamond program, part of the UK's 118 million Pounds Sterling e-Science initiative, will improve the detection of breast cancer and increase the efficiency of its subsequent treatment. The UK government recognizes the importance of projects such as this and we have recently increased our investment in science. By 2005-06 we will have increased the investment in our science base by 1.25 billion Pounds Sterling per year compared with this year. This project shows that investment in knowledge transfer enables effective partnerships between companies and universities or research institutes."

Patients, physicians and hospitals will benefit from better and faster access to more reliable and accurate mammogram images, thereby potentially increasing early cancer detection and the number of lives saved.

"We're applying the vast computing power of a Grid to create a massive digital 'photo album' of mammogram scans available to medical experts across the UK," said Nicholas M. Donofrio, senior vice president, technology and manufacturing for IBM. "The on-demand processing and storage capabilities of eDiamond will enable our most advanced technologies to personally and positively impact people more than ever before. The results of this project could transform breast cancer screening in the future and save lives."

The eDiamond Grid represents an investment in the future of Grid technology in the UK and is made possible through a joint investment by IBM and the UK Government, valued at approximately $6 million (4.2 million Pounds Sterling). IBM's contribution includes servers, storage systems, workstations and other computing hardware furnished through a grant from its Shared University Research (SUR) program. Oxford also plans to integrate middleware and other software products provided via IBM's Scholars program.

In addition to enabling hospitals to store and share mammograms in digital form, the eDiamond Grid will provide physicians with advanced analytical tools and capabilities to better diagnose cancer in patients. Mammogram images will be data mined, allowing physicians to develop new forms of treatment by conducting in-depth studies to determine the impact of environment and lifestyle on the development of breast cancer. The Grid also is expected to help reduce the rate of false-positive diagnosis, overcome the challenge of inconsistent image formats and lost films that prevent proper diagnosis, while also allowing physicians to study and compare similar cases so they can develop better treatment options.

The eDiamond Grid will be developed with direct input from surgeons, radiologists, and other cancer specialists and will use hardware and software available today. Many previous Grid projects included heavily customized technologies.

IBM's DB2(R) and DiscoveryLink(TM) middleware will provide the advanced search and data mining capabilities and IBM WebSphere(R) will enable file serving. IBM hardware powering the data Grid will include IBM's eServer(TM) pSeries(TM) and xSeries(TM) servers; TotalStorage(TM) FAStT500 storage servers and IBM Tape Library 3583; SAN Fibre Channel Switch; Netvista(TM) desktop computers; and IntelliStation(R) workstations with T221 high-resolution flat screen monitors. The UK Mammography Grid will also be based on open protocols and will incorporate the Globus Toolkit(TM) as well as Open Grid Services Architecture (OGSA) when available in 2003.

Creating a National Digital Mammography Archive for the UK

Initially, the Grid will link a large federated database of mammograms shared by St. Georges Hospital and Guy's and St. Thomas' NHS Trust Hospitals in London, the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, and the Breast Screening Centers in Edinburgh and Glasgow, Scotland. The project potentially could be expanded to all 92 screening centers throughout the UK, creating the UK's first national digital mammography archive.

Regular reviews will occur throughout the project between the project team, the funding bodies (the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, IBM, and the Medical Research Council), the UK Department of Trade and Industry, and the UK National Health Service. The eDiamond Grid project required an industry and technology heavyweight to help turn the Grid from concept into a full-scale IT project. IBM's expertise in the deployment and delivery of large scale IT projects will be crucial if deployment is made to 92 cancer hospitals across the UK. The project involves a three-way collaboration between IBM, the prestigious computer science and engineering departments at Oxford, and Mirada Solutions, a start-up company that has developed the intellectual property for the Standard Mammographic Form (SMF) that will be used in the project.

The project also could be expanded to create a worldwide digital mammography Grid by linking up with screening programs being developed in France, Germany and Japan, as well as other similar Grid projects, including one underway in the United States with IBM and the University of Pennsylvania.

About IBM

IBM is the world's largest information technology company, with 80 years of leadership in helping businesses innovate. Drawing on resources from across IBM and key Business Partners, IBM offers a wide range of services, solutions and technologies that enable customers, large and small, to take full advantage of the new era of e-business. For more information about IBM, visit

About Oxford University

Oxford is one of Europe's most innovative and entrepreneurial universities. Drawing on an 800-year tradition of discovery and invention, modern Oxford leads the way in creating jobs, wealth, skills and innovation for the 21st century. Isis Innovation, the University's wholly owned technology transfer company, files on average one new patent application per week and spins out a new company from University research every two months. A total of 37 Oxford spin-out companies have been formed to date, (29 in the last five years), and all are successful to date. For further information see

About Mirada

Mirada is the result of the 'fusion' of two companies spun out from the Medical Vision Laboratory of the University of Oxford led by Professor Mike Brady, OXIVA and OMIA. The Medical Vision Laboratory is a world class research centre that has been developing clinically proven technology for over a decade.

OXIVA and OMIA joined forces in 2001 to form Mirada Solutions (Medical Image and Radiology Analysis Solutions Ltd.) to become the leading provider of medical image analysis algorithms. Based in Oxford (UK) and with commercial offices in Virginia, (USA) and The Hague (Netherlands), Mirada aims to position its technology at the service of OEM companies demanding a competitive edge to their medical imaging offering, and to address the direct needs of doctors requiring state of the art software packages to help address medical imaging problems not currently tackled by the imaging industry. For further information see

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