Computer Science News
Cutting-Edge MRI Research Awarded Global Challenges Research Fund
Professor Daniel Alexander and Dr Delmiro Fernandez-Reyes have been awarded a prestigious Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) from the EPSRC for their research entitled Enabling Clinical Decisions from Low-power MRI in Developing Nations through Image Quality Transfer.
Their success makes Computer Science the only department in the Faculty of Engineering to have received two of these large GCRF grants. The team will receive over £1 million over 3 years for their research.
The duo from UCL Computer Science received this grant in partnership with overseas investigators led by Professor Ikeoluwa Lagunju, a paediatric neurologist at the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Nigeria. The interdisciplinary team also consists of Dr David Carmichael and Professor Helen Cross, from the UCL Institute of Child Health. The proposal also had significant input from Dr Aurobrata Ghosh, a post-doctoral researcher working with Professor Alexander.
The GCRF is a 5-year £1.5Bn fund and a key component in the delivery of the UK Aid Strategy, which aims to tackle global challenges in the national interest. Led by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the initiative operates across a number of delivery partners, including UK Research Councils, UK Higher Education Funding bodies, the Academy of Medical Sciences, Royal Society and British Academy.
“The award provides an example of how machine-learning could provide transformative solutions to the delivery of relevant clinical decision support in resource-constrained environments”, said Dr Fernandez-Reyes, who is a Reader in Digital Health and Intelligent Systems. The study will develop a new machine-learning technology that significantly improves the quality of images from the low field MRI scanner, the type clinics in the LMICs are limited to, in order to achieve the quality that would have been acquired on a state-of-the-art MRI scanner in the UK. As indicated by one of our reviewers, this is a rare case where leading-edge "first world" science and technology offers genuine benefit for LMIC healthcare.”
The long-term objective of this project is to pioneer software solutions that enable low-power cheap-and-sustainable imaging devices, which will provide point-of-care image data in resource-poor locations. By propagating information from databases of high quality MRI images taken using scanners in the UK, they will provide a proof of concept using MRI from lower-power scanners available in LMICs, specifically Nigeria.
“Our research will focus on an application to childhood epilepsy to demonstrate early clinical benefit,” explained Professor Alexander, who is Director of UCL’s Centre for Medical Image Computing (CMIC). “Childhood epilepsy demands immediate clinical attention in LMICs, as MRI from widely available lower-power scanners is insufficient to support clinical decisions on curative surgery that are routinely made in the UK, where we have the state-of-the-art machines. This leaves many patients in the LMICs untreated, living with severe epilepsy and resulting physical disabilities and mental disorders.”
The intention of the group is to have this project act as a springboard for a much wider and longer term program exploring these ideas to bring about a paradigm shift in imaging, deploying cheap point-of-care devices built specifically to acquire data enhanced by databases of high quality images acquired on state of the art devices in the UK.
Read more about UCL Centre for Medical Image Computing (CMIC).