July 2000

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Impressions from the MediMedia 2000 workshop in Brussels

Recently, a one-day MediMedia workshop on medical imaging was organised in Brussels, Belgium. The Virtual Medical Worlds Magazine has covered several presentations, held at this workshop, in a series of articles.
Below, you find a user-friendly click-through menu to guide you to those items which might be of interest to you.

ITIS99logof Visit the Web site of the second International Conference on the Telemedical Information Society.
Combined ITIS'99-ITAB'99 Conference, April 12-13 1999, Amsterdam.
Also featuring all forum discussions!

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Advanced simulation models to reveal genome structure in the cell nucleus
The use of supercomputers is indispensable to generate polymer chain models which allow to explore the three-dimensional structure of the genome and the dynamics of the cell nucleus. The Mannheim Supercomputer 2000 audience attentively listened to Dr. Joerg Langowski, head of the Division for Biophysics of Macromolecules at the Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum in Heidelberg. Scientists from universities in Muenchen, Heidelberg and Grenoble, and the biophysical research institute in Prague teamed under the direction of Dr. Langowski to perform genome simulations on three different levels. As a result, the obtained models could be used to compute the distribution of chromosome territories in the cell nucleus and to compare the outcomes with experimental observations regarding the diffusion of fluorescent probes inside the nucleus.

Virtual multi-user environment to provide surgical training and physiological education via the Web
Collaborative, interactive learning and teaching on a standard PC or any workstation platform across the World Wide Web, addressing medical or graduate students, hospitals, schools and higher educational institutions. This is the overall aim of WebSET, a Fifth Framework IST project funded by the European Commission, to design Web-based standard educational tools, specifically for surgical training and physiological education. The consortium of ten partners will develop a cost-effective suite of three-dimensional virtual learning appliances, based on open technology and standards, and produce educational components that will serve as building blocks for applications in a variety of alternative areas. Continuous assessment performed by targeted user groups, has to guarantee that the WebSET environment lives up to the required user needs. The team also plans to provide an e-commerce outlet on the Web to display and sell the objects, generated by the project.

Medical simulation experts to conduct research on MIST surgical trainer system features at Yale
MUSE Virtual Presence Ltd., a subsidiary of MUSE Technologies, made public that Dr. Anthony Gallagher, Director of Northern Ireland Center for Endoscopic Training and Research at Queen's University, Belfast, Ireland, has been awarded a Fulbright Distinguished Scholarship to research the company's MIST or Minimally Invasive Surgical Trainer System. The yearlong project, which is being conducted at Yale University, hopes to establish and specify pre-requisite skills required to succeed as a laparoscopic surgeon.

IERAPSI surgical simulator design submitted to severe task analysis principles
The IERAPSI consortium has received funding from the European Commission within the Fifth Framework Programme to build an integrated environment for the rehearsal and planning of surgical interventions. In this respect, the IERAPSI team has to deliver a task analysis report to define the human-centred approach of surgical procedures, relating to mastoidectomy, cochlear implantation, and acoustic neuroma resection in particular. With a detailed report at hand, the project partners are able to accurately determine which features the virtual IERAPSI environment has to incorporate in order to meet the required user needs. Based on the guidelines laid out in the ISO 13407 standard for human-centred design in interactive systems, an interim report has been prepared by Professor Robert J. Stone from Virtual Presence Limited, which is one of the project participants.

European Commission to have IST 2000 event nicely fit in with recent e-Europe initiative
The annual European Union conference on Information Society Technologies will this year be held in Nice, France, on 6 to 8 November 2000, under the theme of an Information Society for all. The IST 2000 event is in line with the European Commission's e-Europe initiative, and is organised by the Information Society Directorate-General for the European Commission, in co-operation with the Ministry of Research and the Ministry of Economy, Finances and Industry, for the French Presidency.


PARMED to provide user-friendly distributed video storage and retrieval facility for medical tele-education
During the last Conference on High Performance Computing and Networking, the Polish-Austrian PARMED project was highlighted. The team is developing a Multimedia Storage and Retrieval System (MMSRS) for the remote delivery and sharing of digital images and video sequences between medical centres all over Europe, basically to address tele-educational and scientific purposes. Currently, the contents structure of the object-relational meta-database features visual data on three different surgical interventions, which are hip joint replacement, lumbar interbody fusion, and screwing in of the titanium block. The content of the image and video fragments is provided with annotation semantics, divided into the four classes of persons, events, objects, and locations. This approach has to facilitate the query and retrieval process for the user.

Students in biomechanics and graphic design to study strategies for successful computer-assisted orthopaedic surgery
At Health Care 2000, biomechanics and graphic design student Geert Van Ham presented a survey of the scientific research, conducted by Dr. Ing. Jos Van der Sloten and his student team at the Catholic University of Leuven, in order to catalogue and promote the use of surgical robots for orthopaedic interventions. The computer-assisted orthopaedic applications enable the surgeon to carefully plan the operation in detail, whereas during the actual procedure, movement of the surgical tools can actively be limited. Another major advantage is the automatic and fast robot reaction to sensor signalling. Also, there are no constraints in implant design. Excellent news for the patient because this unexpected freedom allows to develop alternative types of artificial limbs which far better match the patient's anatomy.

Public health care sector in Belgium to make wavering start on the Internet
HIGIS is an International and Scientific Society, responsible for filling in information distribution needs on health care policy in hospitals, institutions for psychiatric patients, rehabilitation centres, and ambulant care. Starting from this neutral and independent position, HIGIS recently has conducted an indirect research to study the types and frequency of use of the Internet for dissemination purposes in the Belgian public health care sector. At the Health Care 2000 event, Dr. Ing. Jos Vanlanduyt presented the results with respect to the contents, functionality, construction, user-friendliness, security, and maintenance costs of the Belgian health care Web sites.

EUROSTORE to present high performance mass storage system's early results at HPCN Europe 2000
Last February, the two-year Esprit-funded EUROSTORE project came to an end. At HPCN Europe 2000, the seven consortium members organised a one-day workshop to share their first results with like-minded participants. The major aim of the EUROSTORE team was to develop a high performance mass storage system which combines the high performance of a parallel file system (PFS) and the functionality of a hierarchical mass storage management system. The resulting management system consists of an open architecture, globally accessible from any network which supports standard protocols. EUROSTORE forms a promising storage tool for medical analyses and examinations including X-rays and CT scans, and for a wide variety of other applications in which there is a strong demand for huge data storage.

GEANT to supersede TEN-155 research network
The European research network organisation DANTE, in collaboration with the National Research and Education Networks (NREN) of 25 European countries has submitted a proposal to the European Commission's Information Society Technologies (IST) Programme for funding support of Geant, the network service that will supersede TEN-155.


Surgical robots to leave no doubt that future is now in the operating theatre
The afternoon session at Health Care 2000 was reserved for a talk on the use of robots in the operating theatre by Dr. Albert Dewint, president of the Flemish Society for Hospital Instrumentation Technicians (VVZ). Dr. Dewint, who also works as a physician at the Academic Hospital St. Jan in Bruges, presented the audience with an overview of the existing potential in surgical robot technology. The robot has left the laboratory and conquered a spot in the operating room, standing next or opposite to the surgeon, or just hanging from the ceiling above the patient body. Serving as a third arm, the robot is able to receive instructions from the surgeon in order to accurately position an instrument. This technological magician even outperforms the human expert in a series of complex actions to remove bone tissue, located via 3D patient image data.

Medical profession to develop from trade to technology in wireless hospital
Dr. Ing. Luc Lambrecht is working as an internist at an outpatient clinical centre in Aalst, Belgium. Starting from his double-tracked experience both as a physician and an electro-technical engineer, Dr. Ing. Lambrecht, at the recent Health Care 2000 event, addressed the multi-faceted technological environment in which today's medical experts are expected not only to easily discover their own path but equally to provide their patients with top quality of care at the diagnostic as well as the treatment level. This lively impression from the hospital work floor made two things very clear. A growing tendency exists to evolve towards wireless clinics while surgery increasingly is turning into a playground for technicians in which computer-illiterate physicians are being referred to the background.

New integrated and interacting HIS architecture to follow logic of health care process
The opening speaker at Health Care 2000 was Prof. Dr. Ing. Rudi Van de Velde, who is active as a medical specialist at the Academic Hospital of the Free University of Brussels. Dr. Van de Velde dealt with the evolution in application and future potential of information systems in hospitals. HIS implementation undoubtedly constitutes a major challenge for clinical staff in optimising the internal communication and quality level of patient care, in supporting the medical decision process, and in controlling the general cost. There exists a mutual influence between hospital organisations and their use of HIS. As a result, the success of a HIS installation strongly depends on the capacity to interact with the system, as well as on its level of integration into the continuum of care.

On-line peer networking enables hospitals to share information on cost savings and supportive tools
HBS International Inc. (HBSI), provider of outcomes management systems to the health care industry, has introduced HBSI AOC or ACTION Online Community at the Healthcare Financial Management Association's (HFMA) Annual National Institute 2000 in Orlando, Florida. Since its inception a little more than two months ago, AOC has provided 350 HBSI client partners with a valuable and free new forum for sharing cost-savings information and benefiting from comparative data.

Data General turns St. Joseph's radiology department into digitised filmless unit
Data General, a Division of EMC Corporation, has been selected by Saint Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, New Jersey's largest free-standing hospital, to automate its radiology department. Saint Joseph's Hospital will utilise Data General's Picture Archiving and Communications System (PACS) solutions, combined with its consultation, maintenance and support services, to simplify processes and create a "filmless" radiology department.


Interactive modelling and visualisation to become reality with SCI-run solution
During the afternoon session of the Supercomputer 2000 Conference, Dr. Chris Johnson, head of the Scientific Computing and Imaging (SCI) Institute at the University of Utah, addressed the topic of ASCI-machines used for modelling and visualisation in cardiology and neuro-surgery, for adaptive finite elements applied to atmospheric research, and for fire simulation. Five university centres in the USA are involved in the ASCI project. The architecture used in this scientific research constitutes the ASCI Blue Mountain, hosted at Los Alamos National Laboratories.

Blue Gene supercomputer to be 'smashingly' equipped for huge modelling task of protein folding
The second speaker at the Supercomputer 2000 Seminar tackling the protein folding issue, apart from Dr. Langowski, was Dr. William Pulleybank, who is Director of the IBM Deep Computing Institute. The determining of the 3D structure formed by a protein whenever placed in water constitutes a fundamental problem encountered in computational biology and modern pharmaceutical design. The computational power of today's computers and methods is far from adequate to solve this matter but Dr. Pulleybank introduced to the audience the Blue Gene project, which was launched in late 1999 at IBM Research. The aim of Blue Gene consists in constructing a million node petaflop general purpose computer which will be applied to the protein folding problem. The planned architecture is thought to form an excellent platform for the integration of an ab initio molecular dynamics approach.

Georgia Tech and North Carolina State University to receive grant for research into high-tech Internet2 applications
BellSouth, a $25 billion communications services company, has offered its support to an Internet2 research project, a collaborative effort between teams at the Georgia Institute of Technology and North Carolina (NC) State University. Internet2 is a consortium, established by over 170 universities, in alliance with industry and government, to accelerate the evolution and the promise of the Internet. BellSouth, a corporate Internet2 member, will support the project with a $150.000 grant.

Georgia multimedia network to succeed in 100.000 telemedicine and distance learning video-conferencing sessions
VTEL Corporation, a leading provider of interactive and Internet-based visual communication products and services, has reached a major milestone with Georgia Statewide Academic and Medical System (GSAMS). GSAMS, one of the largest two-way interactive video and audio networks in the world, recently has completed its 100.000th video-conference over its multimedia network. VTEL Managed Solutions, the network's single hardware maintenance provider, serves as the system's call manager, connecting and maintaining approximately 350 sites within the GSAMS network.

Red Hat Linux backbone to power global telemedicine training network
The Medical Center of Boston International Inc. (MCBI) intends to leverage Red Hat Linux as the operating system (OS) backbone for the first Internet-based global telemedicine infrastructure on the Linux platform. Red Hat Inc., a major leader in open source Internet infrastructure solutions, will help MCBI provide premier medical services all over the world through the Web.


L&H to take next step in strategy to develop complete range of solutions for health care
Lernout & Hauspie (L&H) has signed an agreement to acquire certain Rodeer Systems Inc.'s medical transcription assets, including Rodeer's operations in Arizona, Georgia, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Texas. The agreement calls for L&H to obtain the assets for an aggregate purchase price of about $25 million, a figure which is approximately one and one half of Rodeer's annual revenues from these operations. The acquisition, which constitutes some 60% of all assets of Rodeer, is expected to bolster L&H's transcription resources and help enhance its growing health care solutions business.

Vidimedix network medicine solutions turn e-MedSoft.com into fully integrated e-health application service provider
The e-MedSoft.com company, a leading provider of comprehensive health care portal solutions, has just acquired the privately held VidiMedix Corporation. The acquisition creates the first integrated health management and clinical ASP or application service provider, building on e-MedSoft.com's expanding position in the e-health services sector.

Computer Motion to start patent infringement war on medical robotics against Intuitive Surgical
The United States Patent and Trademark Office issued the broad-based patent no. 6.063.095, thus offering Computer Motion Inc., a principal leader in medical robotics, the ownership of hand tremor elimination with a robotic surgical system during minimally invasive surgery. In the meanwhile, Computer Motion has filed suit in the United States, alleging infringement by Intuitive Surgical of seven United States patents, equally relating to robotic surgery. Patent no. 6.063.095 will bring this number to eight.

Vista Medical and Jomed launch strategic partnership for minimally invasive cardiac surgery and interventional cardiology
Vista Medical Technologies Inc. and JOMED N.V. have signed an Exclusive Distribution Agreement and a Co-operative Technology Agreement relating to Vista Medical's Series 8000 3D Visualisation and Information System. By the terms of the Agreements, JOMED will act as the worldwide exclusive distributor of the Series 8000 in cardiac and related radiological markets.

HP-powered Community from eResearchTechnology to accelerate clinical research while enhancing its quality
Hewlett-Packard (HP) Company and eResearchTechnology Inc. (eRT), a subsidiary of PRWW Ltd., have decided to close an alliance to jointly build the eResearch Network, establishing the foundation for an eResearch Community to accelerate clinical trials and facilitate information exchange for the pharmaceutical industry. The eResearch Network and Community will reduce the time and costs associated with the development of new drugs by creating global, on-line communities of patients, investigators, clinical research organisations (CROs) and sponsors, thereby facilitating high-speed research-transaction processing and presentation of quality research data.


New Bio-society Web site to raise the profile of European socio-economic research
The European Commission's Life sciences Directorate has set up a new Web site focusing on socio-economic research in the life sciences which was launched in June. It hopes the Web site will serve as a platform for the collection and dissemination of information in this field, stimulating thinking on the emerging "Bio-society".

Complient's new Emergency Medical Response system to cover 95% of workplace injuries
On an average workday in America, seventeen workers will die and 16.000 will be injured on the job, according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics. In 1998, the National Safety Council estimated the total cost of work-related deaths and injuries was $125 billion, a costly sum for today's businesses. In order to help companies prepare for workplace emergencies, Complient, the new economy solution for compliance, recently launched an Emergency Medical Response System (EMR System), which helps save lives and prevent injuries by combining the latest in lifesaving equipment with extensive support, training, communications, as well as a data management system to track and deploy each customer's unique compliance solution.

The Digital Group of Telehealth Companies to showcase telehealth novelties at Expo 2000 in Hannover
The North-Canadian Digital Group of Telehealth Companies are the sole exhibitors of telehealth technologies at the Millennium World's Fair in Hannover, Germany, which recently opened its doors. The Fair is running from June 1st to October 31st, 2000, and is expected to draw approximately forty million people from 200 nations, which is making it the largest event in the history of man.

Sanger Centre to launch final phase of the human genome sequencing project
The final phase of the human genome project, the international effort to decipher the three million codes which make up the human genetic material, is now underway. The milestone marks the transition from the initial phase of generating a "working draft" of human DNA to the final phase of producing the complete "finished" sequence, as reported by the Sanger Centre in the United Kingdom.

NSF funds programme to bring computational science to hearing impaired
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a three-year $450.000 grant to the Shodor Education Foundation Inc., based in Durham, North Carolina, to develop curricula and technical signing techniques which will help the teachers incorporate computational science into instructional programmes for hearing impaired students.


PrimeurLive! from the Mannheim Supercomputer Seminar, June 2000

The Mannheim Supercomputer Seminar is the main HPCN event in Europe.
This year we publish two live issues from the event:

Contents of PrimeurLive!: