Workshop Discussion Report - Image Databases

Tenth Cytometry Development Workshop
October 1-5, 2000
Asilomar Conference Grounds
Pacific Grove, California, USA

Summary of discussion

The special character of image database systems was discussed. Traditional databases can be used to store only information derived from images while image databases provide image retrieval as well. Some image database systems also provide image reprocessing after retrieval.

The current state of image database systems for biological research was reviewed. The SciMagix SIMS system is the primary commercial image database for biomedical purposes that provides both image retrieval and image reprocessing. The Cellomics database focuses on storing information derived from images (the end-user cannot reprocess images). A number of companies have in-house image databases and Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories is working on an image database using ObjectStore.

The roles of people involved with image databases were delineated

Recommendations

  1. An implementation-independent standard for exchange of images is needed, either between image databases or between an image database and an analysis client. For this purpose, there is a need to define a minimal, required set of fields describing image records (dimensions, bit depth).
  2. A standard database schema for storing image annotation is needed. The workshop recommends that draft microscope image description tables such as those presented at the workshop by the Murphy group be combined with additional comments from other laboratories. LIMS (Laboratory Information Management System) should be consulted for additional experiment description fields. The standard should recognize the need to create locally-defined tables to augment the standard schema and should provide a standard mechanism for exporting descriptions of locally-defined fields.
  3. The ISAC Data Standards Committee can play a major role in these efforts.