About Us

UNC Biomedical Image Analysis Group

The Biomedical Image Analysis Group at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-biag) focuses on the design of computational algorithms to extract quantitative measures from biomedical data. While our emphasis is on image data (e.g., obtained via magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography, or microscopy) our analyses also include clinical measures and genomics. The group is led by Marc Niethammer.

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Our work is highly interdisciplinary and includes collaborators from a wide range of disciplines such as statistics, applied mathematics, radiology, surgery, and epidemiology. Consequently, we also publish in venues ranging from clinical journals, to medical conferences (such as MICCAI and IPMI) to computer vision conferences (such as CVPR and ECCV), to machine learning conferences (such as NeurIPS, ICML, and AAAI).

Recent Posts

Recent Publications

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Exploring Cycle Consistency Learning in Interactive Volume Segmentation

Interactive volume segmentation can be approached via two decoupled modules: interaction-to-segmentation and segmentation propagation. Given a medical volume, a user first segments a slice (or several slices) via the interaction module and then propagates the segmentation(s) to the remaining slices. The user may repeat this process multiple times until a sufficiently high volume segmentation quality is achieved. However, due to the lack of human correction during propagation, segmentation errors are prone to accumulate in the intermediate slices and may lead to sub-optimal performance. To alleviate this issue, we propose a simple yet effective cycle consistency loss that regularizes an intermediate segmentation by referencing the accurate segmentation in the starting slice. To this end, we introduce a backward segmentation path that propagates the intermediate segmentation back to the starting slice using the same propagation network. With cycle consistency training, the propagation network is better regularized than in standard forward-only training approaches. Evaluation results on challenging benchmarks such as AbdomenCT-1k and OAI-ZIB demonstrate the effectiveness of our method. To the best of our knowledge, we are the first to explore cycle consistency learning in interactive volume segmentation.

MRIS: A Multi-modal Retrieval Approach for Image Synthesis on Diverse Modalities

Multiple imaging modalities are often used for disease diagnosis, prediction, or population-based analyses. However, not all modalities might be available due to cost, different study designs, or changes in imaging technology. If the differences between the types of imaging are small, data harmonization approaches can be used; for larger changes, direct image synthesis approaches have been explored. In this paper, we develop an approach based on multi-modal metric learning to synthesize images of diverse modalities. We use metric learning via multi-modal image retrieval, resulting in embeddings that can relate images of different modalities. Given a large image database, the learned image embeddings allow us to use k-nearest neighbor (k-NN) regression for image synthesis. Our driving medical problem is knee osteoarthritis (KOA), but our developed method is general after proper image alignment. We test our approach by synthesizing cartilage thickness maps obtained from 3D magnetic resonance (MR) images using 2D radiographs. Our experiments show that the proposed method outperforms direct image synthesis and that the synthesized thickness maps retain information relevant to downstream tasks such as progression prediction and Kellgren-Lawrence grading (KLG). Our results suggest that retrieval approaches can be used to obtain high-quality and meaningful image synthesis results given large image databases.