Visible Embryo NGI Project Overview

Officially titled "Human Embryology Digital Library and Collaboratory Support Tools," this project is part of the Digital Libraries Initiative and is funded by the National Library of Medicine, which is part of the National Institutes of Health. The project's purpose is to demonstrate how leading-edge information technologies in computation, visualization, collaboration, and networking can expand capabilities in medical science for developmental studies, clinical work and teaching.

The project focuses on providing a capability for medical professionals to communicate detailed information about development of the human embryo in a visual form. To achieve this, the project technical team will develop a network of medical collaboration workstations, using high-performance off-the-shelf networked computer systems combined with advanced software for collaboration and medical visualization. The workstations will be installed at eight project locations and interconnected over high performance networks operating at data rates over 100 megabits per second nationwide. As a result, medical doctors will be able to visualize and manipulate high-resolution image data collaboratively for diagnoses, clinical case management, and medical education. Also, genomics researchers will be able to use the system to map 3-dimensional patterns of gene expression on embryo datasets and analyze how they change through time.

The nickname "visible embryo" comes from the fact that the project will be using data from the Carnegie Human Embryology Collection of embryos held at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, DC. The Department of Embryology of the Carnegie Institution of Washington amassed and organized this collection from embryos contributed to it by physicians, who collected them upon mother's autopsy, miscarriage, or therapeutic termination of pregnancy.

The project plans to demonstrate the network of collaborative visualization workstations in three advanced applications:

Technical participants in the "Visible Embryo" project are: The collaborating medical groups in the project will participate in each of the applications. Each group will have a leading role in one application: The project is expected to be completed in September, 2002.