Overall Objectives
Research Program
Highlights of the Year
New Software and Platforms
New Results
Bilateral Contracts and Grants with Industry
Partnerships and Cooperations
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Section: Research Program

Computational Anatomy

The aim of Computational Anatomy (CA) is to model and analyse the biological variability of the human anatomy. Typical applications cover the simulation of average anatomies and normal variations, the discovery of structural differences between healthy and diseased populations, and the detection and classification of pathologies from structural anomalies. (The NIH has launched in 2005 the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (60 million USD), a multi-center MRI study of 800 patients who will be followed during several years. The aim is to establish new surrogate end-points from the automated analysis of temporal sequences, which is a challenging goal for researchers in Computational Anatomy. The data is to made available to qualified research groups involved or not in the study.)

Studying the variability of biological shapes is an old problem (cf. the book "On Shape and Growth" by D'Arcy Thompson [107] ). Significant efforts have since been made to develop a theory for statistical shape analysis (one can refer to [89] for a good summary, and to the special issue of Neuroimage [106] for recent developments). Despite all these efforts, there are a number of challenging mathematical issues that remain largely unsolved. A particular issue is the computation of statistics on manifolds that can be of infinite dimension (e.g the group of diffeomorphisms).

There is a classical stratification of the problems into the following 3 levels [102] :

  1. construction from medical images of anatomical manifolds of points, curves, surfaces and volumes;

  2. assignment of a point to point correspondence between these manifolds using a specified class of transformations (e.g. rigid, affine, diffeomorphism);

  3. generation of probability laws of anatomical variation from these correspondences.

We plan to focus our efforts on the following problems:

  1. statistics on anatomical manifolds;

  2. propagation of variability from anatomical manifolds;

  3. linking anatomical variability to image analysis algorithms; and

  4. grid-computing strategies to exploit large databases.