vanderlaakJeroen A. van der Laak, PhD

Associate professor

Radboud University Medical Center




Building an E.U.-scale digital pathology repository: the BIGPICTURE initiative



Background: Artificial Intelligence (AI) will undoubtedly play an important role in histopathology in the near future. The development and validation of such AI solutions requires very large cohorts of digitized slides and associated annotations. Financial, legal and ethical barriers in collecting and releasing these data sets, however, significantly slow down progress in this field.


Methods: We developed the BIGPICTURE project, aiming to establish an E.U. wide repository of whole-slide-images (WSI), with associated meta-data. The project will focus on setting up the required infrastructure (hard- and software), collection of 3M WSI from (pre)clinical studies, development of guidelines for making collected data available in a legal and ethical manner, and development of generic AI algorithms.


Results: The project was funded by the EU under the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) program, and started February 2021. The BIGPICTURE consortium consists of 45 parties, including academic centers, large pharmaceutical companies, SMEs, and regulatory bodies.


Conclusion: The BIGPICTURE project aims to establish an ecosystem in which value is created by connecting the different stakeholders in the AI Pathology domain. It will ensure access to data and AI solutions in a legally and ethically compliant environment, facilitating creation and adoption of innovative Pathology diagnostics.



  1. Understand the relevance of having access to 'big data' for AI development
  2. Know about the Bigpicture initiative



Jeroen van der Laak is associate professor of computational Pathology at the Pathology department of Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen, Netherlands and guest professor at the Center for Medical Image Science and Visualization in Linköping, Sweden. His research focuses on the use of AI for digitized histopathological images. His group was among the first to show the potential of AI for analysis of whole slide images. Further research focused on AI improvements to increase robustness and accuracy, and on AI application for diverse tasks, developing models for analysis of breast and colorectal cancer and for renal transplant biopsies. In 2016 and 2017, he coordinated the CAMELYON grand challenges. He is member of the board of directors of DPA and is leading the ‘AI in Pathology’ taskforce of the European Society of Pathology and is coordinator of the Bigpicture project. Dr van der Laak is USCAP Nathan Kaufman laureate 2019.

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