Virtual Microscopy (2011-2012)
Microscopy of blood, bone marrow, lymph nodes and other body materials is the principal method used to research and diagnose haematological malignancies. One of the principal disadvantages of microscopy is that it requires a great deal of time and effort to learn to apply the method successfully. In other words, a great deal of experience is required to achieve good results. This basic limitation also affects all other medical disciplines which rely on microscopy for research or diagnostic purposes (e.g. pathology, gynaecological cytology, etc.).
The aim of this joint project – run by the German National Library of Medicine and the Department of Internal Medicine I at the University Hospital of Cologne – is to develop a new kind of efficient information infrastructure for haematology and haematopathology in the form of a virtual microscopy system. To achieve this, slides containing sample material are scanned in at high resolution (100x objective magnification). A special software application is then employed to make the digitally captured specimens available in an online virtual environment which is accessible from anywhere at any time.
The project is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) as part of the “Virtual Research Environments – Infrastructure and Demonstration Projects” program in the funding area of “Thematic Information Networks”. The goal of the DFG project is to use virtual microscopy to set up a dynamic network that enables researchers and experts from anywhere in the world to cooperate in the field of cytomorphological and histomorphological haemato-oncology research. The new platform is being rapidly incorporated in the existing networks of specialists (e.g. the German Society of Haematology and Oncology (DGHO)) and electronic portals. A carefully designed sustainability concept not only assures the platform's continued existence but also enables it to be made available to other professional associations as a ZB MED service where relevant and appropriate.
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