The National Pathology Imaging Co-operative (NPIC) will deploy digital pathology to the NHS and use it to develop artificial intelligence to improve diagnosis.
The National Pathology Imaging Co-operative (NPIC) is a multi-million-pound programme, which is funded by the UK Industry Strategy Challenge Fund. The UK Industry Strategy brings together industry partners and researchers. It will benefit society and the UK economy and is managed by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).
NPIC was founded in 2019 as the Northern Pathology Imaging Co-operative. It is a unique collaboration between NHS, Academic and Industry partners. The initial investment of £10.1m from UK Research and Innovation was boosted by another initial investment of £7m from the companies involved in the programme. This funding was to deploy digital pathology across West Yorkshire and to develop an AI solution. In August 2020, NPIC became the National Pathology Imaging Co-operative when it was announced as one of three centres that would benefit from a £20 million funding boost, provided by the UK government. This allowed NPIC to ‘scale up’ the aims of the project and expand our horizons beyond West Yorkshire.
The National Pathology Imaging Co-operative is based out of the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. Leeds has been at the forefront of digital pathology and AI research and innovation for over 15 years, with St James University Hospital being one of the world’s first fully digital pathology labs. Successes at Leeds are being used as a blueprint for deployment in other Trusts.
The National Pathology Imaging Co-Operative is led by Dr Darren Treanor, a consultant liver pathologist at Leeds Teaching Hospitals. Dr Treanor is an honorary clinical Associate Professor at the University of Leeds and Guest Professor in Digital Pathology at Linköping University, Sweden. Dr Treanor is the founder of NPIC and our programme director. He is a key innovator in the field of digital pathology.
The consortium is a globally-leading centre for applying artificial intelligence (AI) research to cancer diagnosis. Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is a global leader in the area of digital pathology for cancer diagnosis, and has many close links with academic researchers.
Over the next two years NPIC will deliver and install digital slide scanners in 3 NHS improvement networks, encompassing 15 NHS sites, and serving 6 million people across Yorkshire and the North East of England. Two further national networks are also being rolled out to support specialist paediatric tumour, as well as sarcoma pathology services. More than 2.4 million pathology images will be created and stored each year allowing for research and collaboration opportunities. This is 3 Petabytes of pathology image data per year, covering all specialties and stains. Alongside this work, an AI tools will be developed to further modernise laboratories in England.
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