Joint project between SGI and Atamai creates 3D virtual patient simulation system at Robarts Research Institute

Mountain View 03 August 2004Silicon Graphics and Atamai Inc. are involved in a joint effort to enable scientists at Canada's Robarts Research Institute to model functioning human organs using Atamai software and SGI servers and storage solutions, and leveraging the integration expertise of SGI Professional Services. As part of a two-year consulting project, the two firms are collaborating on a virtual patient simulation system aimed at improving surgery and therapy techniques by testing the effects of procedures on 3D models of human organs and soft tissue.

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Atamai is working closely with Robarts to develop software for the new system, which will be deployed at the Virtual Augmentation & Simulation for Surgery & Therapy (VASST) laboratory at Robarts' London, Ontario facility. To fully exploit the capabilities of the system, the parties will conduct software development in close conjunction with SGI Professional Services. The system will incorporate a 20-processor SGI Altix 3000 server, a dual-processor SGI Altix 350 server, and 6 terabytes of SGI InfiniteStorage disk capacity.

Comprising customized components and commercially available algorithms and applications, the Atamai software solution leverages advanced graphics APIs from SGI and incorporates advanced image processing and analysis techniques originally developed at Robarts. As part of the project, Atamai developers ported laboratory software originally written for desktop workstations to the SGI Altix platform, which is based on Intel Itanium 2 processors, a 64-bit Linux operating environment, and SGI's uniquely powerful global-shared memory architecture.

"We are excited to collaborate with SGI Professional Services on this breakthrough system for Robarts", stated Dr. Yves Starreveld, president, Atamai. "A project of this scope, where the stakes are so obviously high, requires enormous expertise in system integration and scientific computation. Fortunately, the SGI Altix platform made porting as easy as possible by providing a familiar Linux shared-memory programming environment enhanced by Intel's powerful programming tools and SGI's sophisticated scientific computation libraries."

"To create functional 3D models of human organs and tissue is no small feat, but in collaboration with the developers at Atamai and scientists at Robarts, that's precisely what we are doing", stated Bob Pette, director of SGI Professional Services, North America. "With SGI server and storage solutions, this world-class team is setting out to discover groundbreaking new image-guided surgical and therapy procedures by creating patient models that react in real time to various stresses and treatments. We look forward to working with Atamai and Robarts on this important venture."

The VASST laboratory at Robarts is working to advance a broad range of medical procedures in such areas as neurosurgery, prostate cancer therapy, breast cancer biopsy, and cardiac intervention and surgery. The lab designs and implements the complex algorithms required for real-time 3D modelling of human organs, which then are subjected to virtual tests that can lead to new treatments and procedures of conditions from Alzheimer's disease to stroke, diabetes and organ rejection.

Atamai Inc., a collaborative venture of former Robarts students with the University of Western Ontario and the London Health Sciences Centre, is based in London, Ontario, and provides custom medical visualization solutions to several research groups worldwide. Atamai specializes in high-level software components for image visualization and medical device control that are ideally suited as building blocks for medical research applications.

More information on the Atamai-SGI-Roberts project is available in this VMW issue's article SGI server and storage solutions help Robarts Research Institute create 3D models of functioning human organs


Leslie Versweyveld

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