March 7, 2002
Quantifying Visual Features Is a Challenge
What is the history of your organization’s involvement in life sciences?
Dunkle: Scimagix was spun out of Virage, a leading provider of enterprise-scale video content management and publishing solutions, in mid-1998 to leverage Virage’s image mining technology as applied to the life sciences market. Since then, we have grown the company with personnel who are experts in informatics for life sciences to develop high value solutions that enable our customers in pharmaceutical R&D to utilize all of the information content found within or about scientific images. These technologies that enable researchers to store, retrieve, analyze, and mine images are referred to as image informatics.
More than 70 percent of the data resulting from R&D experiments is found in images, not alphanumeric figures. However, these images typically are not shared outside of the lab in which they are generated, nor are they reused to help analyze new experiments, reducing their value. In addition, these images are not readily searchable. Scimagix is pioneering image informatics to enable scientists to extract information from images and make it available to provide researchers with added insights and to optimize drug discovery decision-making processes.
What is your vision for the development of the life sciences market?
Dunkle: Having been deeply involved in cheminformatics and bioinformatics for many years, I saw an enormous unmet need for a knowledge database of image information that could dramatically improve scientific processes. Quantifying visual features of images and using that information to better understand biology adds a new dimension to the interpretation of experimental outcomes, especially if that information can be correlated with related experimental data (numeric, textual, structural, etc.). My motivation is to help advance science by enabling image informatics to become a pervasive part of the drug R&D decision-making processes.
What organizational assets have you developed to serve this community?
Dunkle: People. The team that we have assembled at Scimagix is unparalleled. Success in image informatics requires a diverse set of skills, including expertise in image, database, and Web technologies that are specific to the issues of the pharmaceutical industry work practice and IT infrastructure. Nearly all of our programmers have life sciences degrees and have spent most of their careers in the life sciences industry, building solutions.
What products and services does your company provide to the life sciences market?
Dunkle: As the foundation for image informatics, we have created SIMS™, the Scientific Image Management System. SIMS stores images, providing context for and access to images generated anywhere throughout an organization, worldwide. Using SIMS, our customers have a single, searchable repository for all images generated in R&D that can be used to compare experimental results and find relationships in data (e.g., relating image features with specific gene expression or chemical structure to a specific biological effect) that were not possible before. Eight of the top 15 pharmaceutical companies currently use SIMS.
We also offer the Scimagix Application Suite, a family of analysis and mining applications that run on top of SIMS to make the visual content of images searchable. The first application, ProteinMine™, is used to analyze and mine 2-D electrophoresis gels.
Return to main index page.