A research informatics company and Columbia University are deploying a medical imaging research initiative on the Google Cloud Platform.

The school is partnering with Minneapolis-based Flywheel; the company’s medical imaging research platform has been used since last June by the school’s neuroscience and biomedical imaging community, and internal and external collaborators at Columbia's Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute.

The migration of the platform to the Google Cloud was necessary because of rapid user adoption and increased demands for large-scale data management and computation, prompting Columbia to expand the program.

Flywheel executives say its platform is the first integrated cloud-based MRI research center. It was developed at the direction of John Thomas Vaughan, director of the Columbia Magnetic Resonance Center, and professor of biomedical engineering, radiology and applied physics and math.

The platform at the Zuckerman Institute is the first node of the cloud-based Columbia MR Research Center (CMRRC)—plans are for the platform to connect the institute, Columbia University Irving Medical Center, Columbia’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, the New York State Psychiatric Institute, and external collaborators in New York and beyond.

Columbia's Zuckerman Institute has contracted Flywheel to facilitate efficient Google Cloud Platform-based data acquisition, archiving, operations and connectivity with other Center laboratories and collaborators. Flywheel provides a complete data management solution to meet the challenges of large, multi-modal imaging data sets as required by multi-center studies and machine learning based research.

Flywheel expects to use the Google Cloud Platform to meet the CMRRC data management requirements for unlimited, on-demand computational power and data storage.

"Flywheel, together with the GCP, are the nervous system of our Center," Vaughan says. The approach can enable access to information in a virtual distributed laboratory, accessible from anywhere. “Leveraging the power of the cloud is obvious and central to the future of scientific investigation. We are fortunate to have Flywheel and GCP working with us at the Zuckerman Institute, connecting our Center across Columbia's campuses as well as extend it to our collaborators around the world."

"With our partners at Google, we have created a truly innovative, highly scalable and secure solution allowing leading research institutions to keep pace with the demands of modern imaging research, including multi-modality studies, multi-center collaboration and machine learning," says Travis Richardson, Flywheel’s president.

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