Top radiology groups team up for ‘massive’ COVID-19 imaging database

Leading radiology associations are collaborating on a large, open-source COVID-19 database with images to help doctors better understand the disease.

The American College of Radiology, along with the Radiological Society of North America, American Association of Physicists in Medicine and National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering are all involved, with the latter funding the effort through a contract with the University of Chicago, according to an Aug. 5 announcement.

ACR’s Chief Research Officer, Etta Pisano, said the project—known as the Medical Imaging and Data Resource Center, or MIDRC—will be invaluable to ongoing efforts battling the pandemic.

“The MIDRC database will provide a critical tool to help the medical imaging community, doctors and scientists better understand COVID-19 and its biological effects on humans,” Pisano said in a statement from RSNA. “This knowledge, and the technological advancements the registry can enable, will ultimately help providers save lives.”

As part of the project, more than 10,000 COVID thoracic x-rays and CT images will soon be uploaded to the database. Many will come from the ACR and RSNA imaging repositories launched in late June. The former organization also announced Monday that it’s coordinating the imaging for a large epidemiological study into the pandemic.

The MIDRC will also conduct five infrastructure development projects and guide nearly 20 university-run labs. And aside from focusing on the current pandemic, the project will eventually help tackle other healthcare challenges.

“COVID-19 is our immediate target, but the MIDRC will ultimately enable the medical and scientific communities to mobilize images and data for work against other existing diseases and future healthcare threats,” said Paul Kinahan, PhD, with the University of Washington and chair of the AAPM Research Committee.