Title:Digital Embryo Library and Collaboratory Tools
Authors:Elizabeth Lockett, Mike Doyle, Arcot Rajasekar
Publication:MW2001: Museums and the Web 2001

Officially titled "Human Embryology Digital Library and Collaboratory Support Tools," this project is part of the Next Generation Internet 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 science and medicine for developmental studies, clinical work and teaching. It also shows how old collections are being made useful with modern technology. Data for the project comes from the Carnegie Human Embryology Collection at the National Museum of Health and Medicine of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, DC. The project will draw from carefully prepared serially-sectioned specimens acquired between the 1890s and the 1930s. While the project primary focus is on providing a capability for medical professionals and biological scientists to communicate detailed information about development of the human embryo in a visual form, it also contains a component for K-12 and the general public to access and view the HDAC collections. For researchers, 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. As a result, physicians and others will be able to visualize and manipulate high-resolution image data collaboratively for diagnoses, clinical case management, and medical education. For the general public an interface using standard Internet technologies will be provided to view lower resolution sets of image data, access educational information, lab tools and animations. The project plans to demonstrate the network of collaborative visualization workstations in three advanced applications:

  • The Annotation and Modeling application will create an archive of tagged image data for visualization, where every picture element can be associated with any number of different labels, for example the organ system to which it belongs, the structure and tissue types represented, the specimen to which it belongs, etc. This will provide the basic archive that the other two applications will use.
  • The Embryology Education application will make the visualization tools available for medical student use, and also will create animations of embryo organ system development. Heart, lungs and perineal region will be modeled.
  • The Clinical Management Planning application will make the data available in visual form so that a geographically distributed group of physicians can look at it simultaneously, manipulate it, and discuss it.