UK, Oxford, IBM Building Linux Grid to Combat Breast Cancer

Oxford University has joined with IBM and the UK Government to
build a sophisticated computing Grid based on the open standards of
Linux that will enable early screening and diagnosis of breast
cancer, and provide medical professionals with more information to
help treat the disease.

The project, which represents an investment of approximately $6
million jointly by IBM and the UK, has been named “eDiamond” by
Oxford researchers and is part of the UK government’s eScience
initiative. eDiamond will be the first Grid built entirely with
commercially available technology, including a first-of-its-kind
software developed by Mirada Solutions to standardize new and
existing digital mammogram images. This capability will help
radiologists accurately compare and evaluate mammography scans
stored on eDiamond, no matter where or when they were created.
eDiamond is expected to create a new model for assembling computing
and data storage infrastructures for scanning, storing and
analyzing mammograms.

“I am delighted this collaboration between leading academics,
IBM, and Mirada, funded jointly by the Department of Trade and
Industry (DTI) and IBM, has led to the development of a project
that could have such a direct benefit to society, said Lord
Sainsbury, UK minister for Science. “The eDiamond program, part of
the UK’s £118 million e-Science initiative, will improve the
detection of breast cancer and increase the efficiency of its
subsequent treatment. The UK government recognizes the importance
of projects such as this and we have recently increased our
investment in science. By 2005-06 we will have increased the
investment in our science base by £1.25 billion per year
compared with this year. This project shows that investment in
knowledge transfer enables effective partnerships between companies
and universities or research institutes.”

Patients, physicians and hospitals will benefit from better and
faster access to more reliable and accurate mammogram images,
thereby potentially increasing early cancer detection and the
number of lives saved.

“We’re applying the vast computing power of a Grid to create a
massive digital ‘photo album’ of mammogram scans available to
medical experts across the UK,” said Nicholas M. Donofrio, senior
vice president, technology and manufacturing for IBM. “The
on-demand processing and storage capabilities of eDiamond will
enable our most advanced technologies to personally and positively
impact people more than ever before. The results of this project
could transform breast cancer screening in the future and save

In addition to enabling hospitals to store and share mammograms
in digital form, the eDiamond Grid will provide physicians with
advanced analytical tools and capabilities to better diagnose
cancer in patients. Mammogram images will be data mined, allowing
physicians to develop new forms of treatment by conducting in-depth
studies to determine the impact of environment and lifestyle on the
development of breast cancer. The Grid also is expected to help
reduce the rate of false-positive diagnosis, overcome the challenge
of inconsistent image formats and lost films that prevent proper
diagnosis, while also allowing physicians to study and compare
similar cases so they can develop better treatment options. The
eDiamond Grid will be developed with direct input from surgeons,
radiologists, and other cancer specialists and will use hardware
and software available today. Many previous Grid projects included
heavily customized technologies. IBM’s DB2 and DiscoveryLink
middleware will provide the advanced search and data mining
capabilities and IBM WebSphere will enable file serving. IBM
hardware powering the data Grid will include IBM’s eServer pSeries
and xSeries servers running Linux; TotalStorage FAStT500 storage
servers and IBM Tape Library 3583; SAN Fibre Channel Switch;
Netvista desktop computers; and IntelliStation workstations with
T221 high-resolution flat screen monitors. The UK Mammography Grid
will also be based on open protocols and will incorporate the
Globus Toolkit as well as Open Grid Services Architecture (OGSA)
when available in 2003.

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