COLLABORATION OF THE MIND: GE, Harvard team up for neurodegenerative studies

The Harvard Center for Neurodegeneration & Repair (HCNR) and GE Healthcare in August began a collaboration that will see HCNR use GE’s IN Cell Analyzer imaging system to advance its studies of the human central nervous system and neurodegenerative diseases. In addition, GE scientists will work with HCNR’s Center for Bioinformatics to develop new software tools addressing degenerative diseases of the brain.

Chris Anderson
CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—The Harvard Center for Neurodegeneration & Repair (HCNR) and GE Healthcare in August began a collaboration that will see HCNR use GE's IN Cell Analyzer imaging system to advance its studies of the human central nervous system and neurodegenerative diseases. In addition, GE scientists will work with HCNR's Center for Bioinformatics to develop new software tools addressing degenerative diseases of the brain.
 
"We are very interested in the capabilities of the IN Cell Analyzer for high-throughput image capture collection and data analysis," says Adrian Ivanson, director of HCNR. "But we are also interested in having our bioinformatics group dig into the software and see what other applications they can develop."
 
For GE, the benefit comes from having what amounts to an extension of its own internal research and development group in the guise of Harvard bioinformatics researchers and scientists who are already developing internal tools for image analysis.
 
"The nature of our collaboration is that we are hoping to tap into that expertise and if they create new image analysis solutions that will further enhance the flexibility and range of what we already have, we would have the opportunity to commercialize those tools," says Anne Jones, marketing director, lead discovery, North America for GE.
 
Stephen Wong, Ph.D., an associate professor of radiology at Harvard Medical school and director of the HCNR Center for Bioinformatics, says, "This collaboration could result in a better understanding of degenerative diseases that affect the brain, which is currently not well understood by the medical community."
 
While the agreement has a two-year term, according to Ivanson, neither organization is looking at this as a short-term project, though both organizations will meet regularly to check progress.
 
"It allows us access to a wonderful machine and how it might be further developed," says Ivanson. "It also puts one of GE's instruments in a pretty rich environment."
 
Jones agrees. "Neurodegen-erative disease is a very important research area, but one that is also very complex because of the sophisticated images you need to analyze," she says. "We feel we can't do everything ourselves. So to partner with an entity that is an expert in the area, both in terms of biology and software, is great for us and a good opportunity to generate some new tools that will be of use for the broader market."

Chris Anderson

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