Research papers and code for "Francesco Ciompi":
We present Neural Image Compression (NIC), a method to reduce the size of gigapixel images by mapping them to a compact latent space using neural networks. We show that this compression allows us to train convolutional neural networks on histopathology whole-slide images end-to-end using weak image-level labels.

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Stain variation is a phenomenon observed when distinct pathology laboratories stain tissue slides that exhibit similar but not identical color appearance. Due to this color shift between laboratories, convolutional neural networks (CNNs) trained with images from one lab often underperform on unseen images from the other lab. Several techniques have been proposed to reduce the generalization error, mainly grouped into two categories: stain color augmentation and stain color normalization. The former simulates a wide variety of realistic stain variations during training, producing stain-invariant CNNs. The latter aims to match training and test color distributions in order to reduce stain variation. For the first time, we compared some of these techniques and quantified their effect on CNN classification performance using a heterogeneous dataset of hematoxylin and eosin histopathology images from 4 organs and 9 pathology laboratories. Additionally, we propose a novel unsupervised method to perform stain color normalization using a neural network. Based on our experimental results, we provide practical guidelines on how to use stain color augmentation and stain color normalization in future computational pathology applications.

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Tissue segmentation is an important pre-requisite for efficient and accurate diagnostics in digital pathology. However, it is well known that whole-slide scanners can fail in detecting all tissue regions, for example due to the tissue type, or due to weak staining because their tissue detection algorithms are not robust enough. In this paper, we introduce two different convolutional neural network architectures for whole slide image segmentation to accurately identify the tissue sections. We also compare the algorithms to a published traditional method. We collected 54 whole slide images with differing stains and tissue types from three laboratories to validate our algorithms. We show that while the two methods do not differ significantly they outperform their traditional counterpart (Jaccard index of 0.937 and 0.929 vs. 0.870, p < 0.01).

* Accepted for poster presentation at the IEEE International Symposium on Biomedical Imaging (ISBI) 2017
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The development of reliable imaging biomarkers for the analysis of colorectal cancer (CRC) in hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) stained histopathology images requires an accurate and reproducible classification of the main tissue components in the image. In this paper, we propose a system for CRC tissue classification based on convolutional networks (ConvNets). We investigate the importance of stain normalization in tissue classification of CRC tissue samples in H&E-stained images. Furthermore, we report the performance of ConvNets on a cohort of rectal cancer samples and on an independent publicly available dataset of colorectal H&E images.

* Published in Proceedings of IEEE International Symposium on Biomedical Imaging (ISBI) 2017
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Deep learning algorithms, in particular convolutional networks, have rapidly become a methodology of choice for analyzing medical images. This paper reviews the major deep learning concepts pertinent to medical image analysis and summarizes over 300 contributions to the field, most of which appeared in the last year. We survey the use of deep learning for image classification, object detection, segmentation, registration, and other tasks and provide concise overviews of studies per application area. Open challenges and directions for future research are discussed.

* Revised survey includes expanded discussion section and reworked introductory section on common deep architectures. Added missed papers from before Feb 1st 2017
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Manual counting of mitotic tumor cells in tissue sections constitutes one of the strongest prognostic markers for breast cancer. This procedure, however, is time-consuming and error-prone. We developed a method to automatically detect mitotic figures in breast cancer tissue sections based on convolutional neural networks (CNNs). Application of CNNs to hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) stained histological tissue sections is hampered by: (1) noisy and expensive reference standards established by pathologists, (2) lack of generalization due to staining variation across laboratories, and (3) high computational requirements needed to process gigapixel whole-slide images (WSIs). In this paper, we present a method to train and evaluate CNNs to specifically solve these issues in the context of mitosis detection in breast cancer WSIs. First, by combining image analysis of mitotic activity in phosphohistone-H3 (PHH3) restained slides and registration, we built a reference standard for mitosis detection in entire H&E WSIs requiring minimal manual annotation effort. Second, we designed a data augmentation strategy that creates diverse and realistic H&E stain variations by modifying the hematoxylin and eosin color channels directly. Using it during training combined with network ensembling resulted in a stain invariant mitosis detector. Third, we applied knowledge distillation to reduce the computational requirements of the mitosis detection ensemble with a negligible loss of performance. The system was trained in a single-center cohort and evaluated in an independent multicenter cohort from The Cancer Genome Atlas on the three tasks of the Tumor Proliferation Assessment Challenge (TUPAC). We obtained a performance within the top-3 best methods for most of the tasks of the challenge.

* Accepted to appear in IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging
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The introduction of lung cancer screening programs will produce an unprecedented amount of chest CT scans in the near future, which radiologists will have to read in order to decide on a patient follow-up strategy. According to the current guidelines, the workup of screen-detected nodules strongly relies on nodule size and nodule type. In this paper, we present a deep learning system based on multi-stream multi-scale convolutional networks, which automatically classifies all nodule types relevant for nodule workup. The system processes raw CT data containing a nodule without the need for any additional information such as nodule segmentation or nodule size and learns a representation of 3D data by analyzing an arbitrary number of 2D views of a given nodule. The deep learning system was trained with data from the Italian MILD screening trial and validated on an independent set of data from the Danish DLCST screening trial. We analyze the advantage of processing nodules at multiple scales with a multi-stream convolutional network architecture, and we show that the proposed deep learning system achieves performance at classifying nodule type that surpasses the one of classical machine learning approaches and is within the inter-observer variability among four experienced human observers.

* Sci. Rep. 7, 46479; (2017)
* Published on Scientific Reports
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Tumor proliferation is an important biomarker indicative of the prognosis of breast cancer patients. Assessment of tumor proliferation in a clinical setting is highly subjective and labor-intensive task. Previous efforts to automate tumor proliferation assessment by image analysis only focused on mitosis detection in predefined tumor regions. However, in a real-world scenario, automatic mitosis detection should be performed in whole-slide images (WSIs) and an automatic method should be able to produce a tumor proliferation score given a WSI as input. To address this, we organized the TUmor Proliferation Assessment Challenge 2016 (TUPAC16) on prediction of tumor proliferation scores from WSIs. The challenge dataset consisted of 500 training and 321 testing breast cancer histopathology WSIs. In order to ensure fair and independent evaluation, only the ground truth for the training dataset was provided to the challenge participants. The first task of the challenge was to predict mitotic scores, i.e., to reproduce the manual method of assessing tumor proliferation by a pathologist. The second task was to predict the gene expression based PAM50 proliferation scores from the WSI. The best performing automatic method for the first task achieved a quadratic-weighted Cohen's kappa score of $\kappa$ = 0.567, 95% CI [0.464, 0.671] between the predicted scores and the ground truth. For the second task, the predictions of the top method had a Spearman's correlation coefficient of r = 0.617, 95% CI [0.581 0.651] with the ground truth. This was the first study that investigated tumor proliferation assessment from WSIs. The achieved results are promising given the difficulty of the tasks and weakly-labelled nature of the ground truth. However, further research is needed to improve the practical utility of image analysis methods for this task.

* Overview paper of the TUPAC16 challenge: http://tupac.tue-image.nl/
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