With the increasingly digital nature of biomedical data and as the complexity of analyses in medical research increases, the need for accurate information capture, traceability and accessibility has become crucial to medical researchers in the pursuance of their research goals. Grid- or Cloud-based technologies, often based on so-called Service Oriented Architectures (SOA), are emerging as potential solutions for managing and collaborating distributed resources in the medical domain. Few examples exist, however, of successful implementations of Grid-enabled medical systems that provide the traceability or provenance of research data needed to facilitate complex analyses and even fewer, if any, have been deployed for evaluation in practice. Over the past decade, we have been working with mammographers, paediatricians and neuroscientists in three generations of projects to provide the data management and provenance services now required for 21st century medical research. This paper proposes a software solution that provides the foundation for such support. It introduces the use of the CRISTAL software to provide provenance management as one of a number of services delivered on a SOA, deployed to manage neuroimaging projects that have been studying biomarkers in the identification of the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. In the neuGRID project a provenance service has been designed and implemented that is intended to capture, store, retrieve and reconstruct the workflow information needed to facilitate users in conducting neuroimaging analyses. The software enables neuroscientists to track the evolution of workflows (or pipelines) and datasets. It tracks the outcomes of various analyses and provides provenance traceability throughout the lifecycle of their studies. The paper also comments on the suitability of such an ‘analysis service’ in the wider context of medical research and reflects on its application in other forms of medical research.
McClatchey, R., Branson, A., Anjum, A., Bloodsworth, P., Habib, I., Munir, K., …Green, S. (2012). Providing traceability for neuroimaging analyses. International Journal of Medical Informatics, 82(9), 882-894. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2013.05.005