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About Astronomical Medicine
The goal of the "Astronomical Medicine" (AM) project is to extend the state of the art of complex data understanding in two very different fields, astronomy and medical imaging, using a broad-based approach to data exploration and analysis.
At present we have a particular focus on 3D visualization in astronomy. Please refer to our dedicated pages to learn why this is crucial for the exploitation of complex data which is rich in structure.
The best of two disciplines
While astronomy and medical imaging seem very different, both fields search through large amounts of image data looking for meaningful patterns. For example, a physician may inspect a patient's MRI scans looking for signs of disease, while an astronomer will analyze radio telescope image data to find evidence of a new star being born. The two sciences have separately developed many techniques to analyze, visualize, and catalog complex multi-dimensional imaging data, but seldom have experts from the two areas worked together.
The AM project brings together researchers from the Harvard Medical School and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, along with both national and international collaborators, to combine their knowledge and advance the state-of-the-art in both medical imaging and astronomy.
The project was started at Harvard's Initiative in Innovative Computing as part of the IIC's effort to drive new science at Harvard through cross-discipline collaboration and computation.
By combining the expertise of medical imaging and astronomy through shared software and professional collaboration, the AM project is developing tools and techniques that address common research goals in the imaging sciences:
- adapting and developing software to allow researchers to visually explore their data,
- creating new data segmentation techniques based on medical imaging and astronomy research,
- linking landmarks and data features to established catalogs of scientific knowledge.
This broad approach to science is designed to benefit fields beyond the astronomy and medical domains and to incorporate good ideas from many other disciplines.
Our current work is focused on the development of 3D Slicer for astronomy data, the development of new innovative astronomy visualization tools, and interdisciplinary scientific research. To see a sample of our research and software development projects, go to our research and software overview pages.
Collaboratively-developed, freely-available, open source software is a tool for the AstroMed project to advance its research goals and help scientists everywhere make new discoveries.
Our current software engineering effort is focused on adapting 3D Slicer for astronomy visualization. While this work is still in its early stages, we are releasing tools that allow qualitative analysis of medical data in ways that are generally not supported with existing astronomy software. This software should be considered "beta" quality, but we use it ourselves to understand the structure of complex astronomy data.
We will make sources for our tools available in the near future to encourage participation by the larger research community. Please contact us for more information and to be notified of ongoing developments.
For more information about our tools, go to our software overview page.
Although we are a small team, we are actively interested in working with other researchers to make new science in astronomy and data visualization possible. Please contact us if you have any questions about our ongoing work, or with ideas about how you might like to participate.
The AM project would not be possible without the help of supporting funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation (for the CfA COMPLETE Survey) and the National Institutes of Health (which funds 3D Slicer through the National Alliance for Medical Image Computing and the Neuroimage Analysis Center).