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Imaging Project Cluster

The Southampton Respiratory Imaging Group (SRIG) is centred on an existing multi-disciplinary, collaborative group led by Professor Joy Conway and Professor John Fleming (SUHT) and known as an international level group with expertise in imaging the deposition and clearance of inhaled particles in the human lung using 3D imaging techniques such as Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT).Research dedicated imaging facilities are based at Southampton General Hospital.

The Imaging Group is one of several research groups that are also a part of the NIHR Southampton Respiratory Biomedical Research Unit.


This group is focussed on increasing the understanding of the structure and function of human lungs in both health and in disease. Specifically, the purpose of SRIG is to use two- and three-dimensional imaging technologies to map anatomy and the anatomical changes that occur with disease and to relate that to physiology and pathophysiology.


Clinical trials.  Computer aided interpretation of spatial information.


The Southampton Respiratory Imaging Group is working currently within research programmes to further understand Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), interstitial lung disease (ILD), cystic fibrosis (CF) and primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD).
The major translational component is to address the unmet need for observer-independent and quantitative, reproducible methods for analysing complex 3-D images in diagnostic and therapeutic imaging.  These advances in imaging technology and in image analysis will then allow translation to clinical trials aimed at better understanding of disease and of interventions such as chest physiotherapy.

Funding is from a mix of sources but includes the NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Unit and industry.

The Southampton Respiratory Imaging Group is a large cross-faculty research group with many collaborators in the UK and in Europe, the US and Australia.
In addition to Professors Conway and Fleming the other key lead for this group is Dr Michael Bennett, Senior Research Scientist (SBRU).

Imaging technology and image analysis
  1. Development of a set of software tools for analysis of images of the respiratory system: As imaging technology becomes more advanced, there is an unmet need for image analysis software that is able to make sense of the substantial volumes of information obtained. This will require the development of new algorithms to, for example, identify regions of interest, or combine information from different imaging modalities in an intelligent way.  The objective of this work will be to develop a set of software tools for the analysis of the respiratory system, producing data describing both the structure and function which will serve as bio-markers of disease. 
  2. Development of a biobank of respiratory images: There is an unmet need for a widely available, extensive resource of well characterised imaging data for respiratory research.  We therefore aim to develop an imaging bio-bank, composed of imaging data acquired as part of the current RBRU, from other projects and from other centres.  The imaging data will be linked with the biological samples stored in the BRU biobank, forming an unparalleled resource for research into new bio-markers of respiratory disease, which will facilitate both rapid internal development of new technology and will also be made available to the wider research community.
Application to clinical trials
  1. Quantitative assessment of mucociliary clearance (MCC) in CF, PCD and COPD Changes in MCC are thought to be pivotal to the pathophysiology of diseases such as CF, PCD and COPD but MCC measurements are poorly understood.  A good understanding of the interpretation of these measurements in health and disease therefore represents an unmet need. We aim to investigate our existing extensive database of multimodality imaging measurements of MCC in cystic fibrosis to provide an improved understanding of MCC.  We will also apply MCC measurements in forthcoming clinical trials in both COPD and PCD. Ultimately it is our intention to establish ourselves as a national centre of excellence for the study of MCC. 
  2. Quantitative assessment of structural and physiological changes in COPD, asthma and ILD. Using SPECT/CT and HRCT techniques we are conducting clinical trials on structural and physiological changes in COPD and asthma and are looking to start clinical trial work in ILD.


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