Cancer Imaging Archive Housed at UAMS Bolstered by $8.3 Million NCI Grant

By Susan Van Dusen

The Cancer Imaging Archive (TCIA) is a free online service that hosts a large collection of cancer-related medical images available for public download. All patient identification has been removed from the images and supporting data, which include outcomes, treatment details, genetic information, pathology reports and expert analyses when available. Since its formation about seven years ago, TCIA data has been used to produce almost 500 academic papers.

In 2015, the archive moved from Washington University in St. Louis to UAMS when its lead principal investigator, Fred Prior, Ph.D., took the position as the first-ever chair of the UAMS Department of Biomedical Informatics. Prior assumed leadership of the TCIA project during his tenure at Washington University. Additional principal investigators on the project are Ashish Sharma, Ph.D., of Emory University in Atlanta and Joel Saltz, M.D., Ph.D., of Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, New York.

The grant, titled “TCIA Sustainment and Scalability: Platforms for Quantitative Imaging Informatics in Precision Medicine,” supports the TCIA by expanding its capacity to provide data-driven information and images for use in research studies; adding new high-quality data collections; and encouraging the engagement, collaboration and dissemination of information among the research community.

“Since 2011, the Cancer Imaging Archive has encouraged and supported cancer-related research by acquiring, curating, hosting and managing collections of images and other data essential to the discovery process. This grant will allow us to undergo the continuous improvements and expansion necessary to provide the large collections of data required to test and validate cancer research studies for years to come,” said Prior, professor in the Department of Bioinformatics in the UAMS College of Medicine.

Biomedical informatics uses computers, rather than traditional laboratories, to extract knowledge from large sets of data. Under Prior’s leadership, the UAMS department has grown to include about 50 faculty and staff members responsible for developing computational tools to assess and manage medical and public health information for  research programs.

The ultimate goal of the archive is the advancement of precision medicine, which allows for therapies to be tailored to the individual needs of each patient based on the specific makeup of his or her cancer. Prior and his team are accomplishing this goal by using computers to read and understand medical images in new ways and by applying these tools across multiple formats, from microscope images of tumor biopsy samples to CT images of the lung.

Prior’s research team for this grant includes Lawrence Tarbox, Ph.D.; Mathias Brochhausen, Ph.D.; Tracy Nolan; Kirk E. Smith; William C. Bennett; Roosevelt D. Dobbins; Diana Stockton; and Sean M. Berryman.

UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and eight institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute, Institute for Digital Health & Innovation and the Institute for Community Health Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS’ clinical enterprise. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 3,275 students, 890 medical residents and fellows, and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 12,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children’s, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or Find us on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), YouTube or Instagram.