Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center
News Release

April 26, 2000

Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center and Pitt Contract to Develop Infrastructure for Telemedicine

PSC and Pitt/UPMC will collaborate with hospitals in a four-state consortium established through initiatives of Congressman Curt Weldon.

Prostate cancer pathology slide

This microscope image of cancerous prostate tissue represents research in which PSC scientists have collaborated with pathologists at the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC Health Center to develop automated methods for tissue diagnosis. Research has shown variation of tissue grading among physicians. Statistical analysis of relative cell locations offers an objective, reliable approach.

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC) and medical researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and the UPMC Health System have joined with three other hospitals in a four-state region (Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey) to develop technologies for networking and archiving of medical-image data. The effort is a pilot project to create technological infrastructure for real-time consultation on patient diagnosis and care among specialists at diverse locations, and to promote regional collaborative research and health education.

"Information technology is an untapped resource in the effort to improve the delivery of quality, affordable healthcare for Americans," said Congressman Curt Weldon (R, Pa. 7th Dist.). "This project places our region on the cutting edge, and everyone in the region will benefit from the improved access to healthcare that this initiative will bring."

Weldon has stimulated development of a four-state "smart region" consortium called HUBS (Hospitals, Universities, Businesses and Schools). The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in April awarded $7 million to the Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) to develop and demonstrate a range of innovative internet technologies for HUBS. PSC and UPMC have subcontracted to work on several over-lapping projects aimed at creating enabling technologies for secure, reliable and fast "telemedicine."

PSC's superb resources, including hundreds of terabytes of data-storage and high-performance network connectivity, are a keystone of the HUBS initiative. "This project exemplifies our ability to harness the two basic digital technologies: advanced communications and data storage and retrieval," noted PSC scientific directors Michael Levine and Ralph Roskies. "Our staff scientists and engineers bring unparalleled expertise in the application of these resources. This project will improve quality of life in the four-state region and set the pace for similar efforts across the nation."

The Center for Biomedical Informatics (CBMI), which operates across the University of Pittsburgh and the UPMC Health System, is also a major collaborator in the project. Directed by Dr. Charles Friedman, CBMI has developed Integrated Advanced Information Management Systems that make it a world leader in "biomedical informatics," applying information technology to the processing and communication of medical data.

Other collaborating groups include the University and UPMC's Division of Radiology Informatics. "Information technology has become imperative for cost-effective, quality health care and medical research," said Dr. Paul J. Chang, director of this division. "This collaboration affords Pitt and UPMC an excellent opportunity to bring forward our acknowledged expertise in bioinformatics as a foundation to address the large-scale telecommunications problems involved."

The UPMC Division of Pathology Informatics, led by Dr. Michael Becich, will coordinate a four-hospital collaboration aimed at an integrated approach for pathology-image data collection and data-base searching for automated diagnosis of tissue samples. PSC has collaborated with the Becich group in developing new applications in this area.

Overall project management is provided by SAIC, through their Valley Forge, Pa. facilities. Other partners along with PSC and UPMC are Telcordia Technologies (formerly Bellcore), Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

In collaboration with Telcordia, PSC networking staff will work to develop an innovative, high-performance implementation of a networking technology known as a "virtual private network." The objective will be to assure integrity and security of patient data transmission at high levels of network performance. In another effort, called "intelligent archiving," PSC will collaborate with UPMC and Johns Hopkins to create network software to facilitate archival and retrieval of x-rays, PET, MRI and other image data. A third project focuses on pathology applications.

The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center is a joint effort of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh together with the Westinghouse Electric Company. It was established in 1986 and is supported by several federal agencies, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and private industry.

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Michael Schneider

© Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC)
Revised: April 28, 2000

URL: http://www.psc.edu/publicinfo/news/2000/hubs_04-26-2000.html