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NIH Launches Global COVID-19 Digital Pathology Repository

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 28 May 2020
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The National Institutes of Health {(NIH) Bethesda, MD, USA} has launched the online COVID Digital Pathology Repository (COVID-DPR), a virtual collection of high resolution microscopic COVID-related human tissue images.

While the number of COVID-19-related deaths continues to rise worldwide, only a few organizations are equipped with the viral containment facilities to perform autopsies and collect tissues from patients who succumb to the disease. These tissues are critical for researchers who are investigating the pathology, treatment and prevention of COVID-19 infection. COVID-DPR was created to enable international collaboration by providing a centralized, cloud-based repository for sharing and annotating digital whole slide images of lung, liver, kidney and heart tissues from patients infected with COVID19, as well as the closely related coronaviruses associated with SARs and MERs. The whole slide images, annotations and metadata in the repository will be used as a reference data set for education, research and future clinical trials aimed at limiting further infection, disease, and death.

The current initiative involves multiple institutes within NIH along with support from Indica Labs, a provider of computational pathology software, and Octo, an information technology systems provider to the US federal government. COVID-DPR is underpinned by Indica Labs' HALO Link software, a collaborative image management platform designed specifically for secure sharing of digital whole slide images and data. The HALO Link instance associated with COVID-DPR will be deployed in a web portal developed and managed by Octo and Axle Informatics to provide a secure, globally accessible central repository. Biomedical scientists can securely add, view, annotate, analyze and share whole slide images using HALO Link. Indica Labs' image analysis, machine learning and artificial intelligence tools can also be integrated and accessed within the HALO Link interface. COVID-DPR will be available immediately as a shared resource for researchers at institutes around the world with initial data sets being provided by infectious disease labs across North America, Europe, and Australia.

"The entire Indica Labs team takes great pride in working with NIH and Octo to deliver a much-needed global integration for COVID-19 pathology and a framework for the implementation of further cutting-edge technologies," said Steven Hashagen, CEO at Indica Labs. "Deployment of the HALO Link platform will provide data availability and allow real-time collaboration between the world's leading clinical institutions at this critical time in our battle against the novel Coronavirus."

"To better understand the ravaging effects of COVID-19 on the human body and to make progress in alleviating those effects, researchers need to have timely access to clinical and imaging data," said Susan Gregurick, NIH Associate Director for Data Science and Director of the Office of Data Science Strategy, who is coordinating NIH's computational efforts to combat the disease. "The COVID-19 digital pathology repository is a significant step in this direction. This resource provides all investigators a platform to access important reference datasets, and in the next iteration, to support clinical trials research and provide datasets for computational studies based on imaging analysis and artificial intelligence, which are essential capabilities for defeating COVID-19."

Related Links:
National Institutes of Health (NIH)


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