Astronomical Medicine

Astronomical Medicine image

Lead investigators

Alyssa Goodman (Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, IIC Founding Director), Michael Halle (Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women's Hospital, BWH Surgical Planning Laboratory ), Ron Kikinis (Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women's Hospital, BWH Surgical Planning Laboratory) and David Kennedy (Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging )

Project staff

Douglas Alan, Michelle Borkin and Jens Kauffmann


The goal of the Astronomical Medicine (AM) project is to extend the state of the art of complex data understanding in two very different fields, astronomy and medical imaging, using a broad-based approach to data exploration and analysis.

Physicians use visualization and segmentation techniques to search multi-dimensional imaging data in order to help understand the course of disease. Astronomers have a similar need to understand patterns in images collected from large sky surveys and other sources, but they typically have less advanced tools to visualize the three-dimensional structure of their data. Astronomers, meanwhile, have extensive experience in data provenance and data sharing among large distributed communities of scientists that can be of benefit to medical imaging researchers.

By combining the expertise of medical imaging and astronomy through shared software and professional collaboration, the AM project is developing tools and techniques that address the commonalities of research in the imaging sciences. Specifically, the project team is adapting and developing software to allow astronomers to visually explore their data, creating new data-segmentation techniques based on medical imaging and astronomy research and linking landmarks and data features to established catalogs of scientific knowledge.

The tools and techniques developed by AM are being designed to have utility far outside the astronomy and medical domains.

The AM project’s current major collaboration involves visualization of the COMPLETE Survey of Star-Forming Regions from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics using medical image analysis software such as 3D Slicer from the Surgical Planning Lab at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School.



Michelle Borkin, Alyssa Goodman, Michael Halle, Douglas Alan, Application of Medical Imaging Software to 3D Visualization of Astronomical Data, 10/2006, ADASS XVI Conference.

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This page last updated 2008

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Rosalind Reid