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DPUK’s Imaging Informatics platform provides controlled access to brain scan data for all brain health researchers – wherever they are conducting their research. It’s enabling many more research collaborations to think big in their study vision.

What’s in a brain scan?

3D anatomical brain scan [check]© Dementia Research Centre / UCLThe brain is by far the body’s most complex organ to understand. Since the very first MR scans in the 1970s, the technology has developed dramatically, today offering scientists an extraordinary level of detail on the structure and behaviour of different areas in the brain. Scientists using the scanner in UCL are already making important findings using advanced scanning techniques. Images at the level of detail now possible in the DPUK scanner network are very valuable to researchers world-wide.

Brain scans available for all brain health researchers

DPUK’s informatics team have built an online state-of-art platform for all the UK brain scanner sites to share their images safely. With 200TB of space in the central hub to store data, and each scan 1GB in size, there is plenty of space to store brain scans from studies that will be carried out across the UK. To date, there are PET and MR scans from 746 research participants (from four different health study cohorts) on the platform which researchers from ten different UK universities have accessed for research. PET amyloid scans© Dementia Research Centre / UCL

Also notable is that non-imaging experts are able to work usefully with brain scan data and draw out insights. DPUK datathons are hackathon-style events that bring together data scientists, statisticians and analysts of all stripes. As we bring more and more brain scan data on to the platform, we will see these scientists use this data and apply innovative analytical techniques from a whole range of disciplines to the big questions in dementia research using imaging data.  

Getting big studies off the ground

In addition to creating a central hub for sharing, the DPUK imaging informatics team is supporting individual experimental medicine studies. The team has set up major experimental medicine studies – the Deep and Frequent Phenotyping study and New Therapeutics in Alzheimer's disease – with their own sharing platforms, to enable scientists to share images. Without the platform, scientists would not be able conduct studies of such size, limiting the reliability of their findings and the insights they obtain. Like the wider DPUK technology, DPUK’s imaging informatics supports clinical and experimental studies at a much larger scale.