Imaging allows the assessment of structural and/or functional changes that may reflect specific pathology. Imaging-based biomarkers of specific diseases can be used to investigate causes of pathological alterations at an early stage; i.e. before clinically overt disease is present. Subsequently these markers may be used for the early identification of people at risk of getting diseased.
In light of the current shift in medicine, from curative to preventive, personalized medicine, the issue of early identification and disease-prediction becomes more and more important. Ultimately, such strategies may lead to improvements in people’s quality of life in the short term and in the long term reduce the costs for the healthcare sector.
European Population Imaging Initiative (EPI2)
Against this background, there is an important role for EPI2 with regard to the identification and analyses of relevant imaging-based biomarkers in large research and clinical cohorts. The overall aim of the EPI2 is to provide standardized image acquisition protocols, central data storage facilities for imaging data, and image-processing pipelines.
The infrastructure will provide the following:
Advice on and tools for standardized image acquisition protocols.
Central imaging data storage facility including options for data viewing. The data-viewer will be directly accessible in order to perform visual inspections.
Validated image-analyses pipelines. Initially, the focus of EPI2 will be on biomarkers, that are derived from neuroimaging, cardiovascular imaging and musculoskeletal imaging.
Multiple image libraries for development and testing purposes by users of the infrastructure. These include a library with scan-rescan data and a library with annotated image data.
Normative reference databases. These will be generated for the various biomarkers, and may serve as basis for scientific research or for clinical reference.
The EPI2 has been selected as a (flagship) node for population imaging infrastructure within the EuroBio-Imaging research infrastructure initiative on the ESFRI roadmap, EuroBioimaging is currently forming an ERIC with participation of the Netherlands.