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LUMC, Leiden University and Philips intensify collaboration for faster MRI with the aid of artificial intelligence

Together, Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC), Leiden University and Philips are one of the 17 AI labs within the ROBUST consortium that will receive support from the Dutch Research Council (NWO). The aim of this collaboration is to use artificial intelligence to speed up MRI scans.

In 2019 the LUMC and Philips formed a partnership to speed up MRI scans. At present an MRI scan usually takes 15 to 30 minutes, but can take up to an hour. For the whole time the patient has to lie still in a confined, noisy space. This is often an uncomfortable experience. And if the patient moves during the scan, this can cause problems: the scan is less sharp, and any anomalies are therefore less visible. 

Retain quality 

To solve these problems researchers are aiming to develop a technique that can create an MRI scan in under five minutes. They are using artificial intelligence that uses less data to produce an MRI image. This will greatly reduce the scan time, but not the quality, which will benefit not only the patient but also radiology departments because a shorter scan time will make them more efficient. In their proof of concept study, researchers from the LUMC and Philips showed that this is viable, and their AI won them the international FASTMRI competition.

Big challenge

Building on this success Philips and the LUMC have spent the past year developing an IT infrastructure to collect data. Their researchers will use this data to improve the AI and bring it to clinical diagnostic quality. To do so, they have linked various systems and created an infrastructure that ensures patient consent and privacy legislation as well as workability for the clinic. They reached an important milestone when, in mid-September, the first patients were included in the study.

The LUMC, Leiden University and Philips will increase their collaboration by building a new research lab by the name of AI4MRI within the national network of Innovation Center for Artificial Intelligence Labs, or ICAI Labs. NWO selected the ROBUST consortium, which AI4MRI is part of, for its long-term programme with total funding of 95 million euros. The NWO’s contribution of 25 million euros has been supplemented by funding from the Dutch AI Coalition and industry.  

Flourishing AI ecosystem

According to Professor of Biomedical Imaging Boudewijn Lelieveldt from the LUMC, the AI4MRI ICAI lab is the result of the flourishing AI ecosystem that has developed in Leiden. ‘This is the perfect opportunity to increase the collaboration between the LUMC, Philips and Leiden University in the future,’ says Lelieveldt. 
Richard Kemkers from Philips emphasises that intensive collaboration between hospitals, universities and business produces innovation that is relevant to society. ‘This means not only a drastic reduction in scan time and a greatly improved patient experience, but also a more efficient process for the health service.’

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