The NCITA Infrastructure is composed of three cross -institutional units and three activity groups which work in synergy to provide a coordinated infrastructure and integrated pipeline for the development of quality assured cancer imaging biomarkers for clinical use.
Table of Contents
Imaging Clinical Trials Unit
The NCITA Imaging Clinical Trials Unit (CTU) supports clinical studies, where the research question focuses on imaging, or imaging is required to determine the primary end point.
The NCITA CTU is a cross-institutional network of imaging centres across the UK, which provide bespoke trial management and governance support for clinical imaging studies using cutting-edge magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and nuclear imaging techniques.
Working closely with the NCITA QA/QC Unit and the NCITA Repository Unit, the NCITA CTU is developing robust standardised image acquisition, processing and analysis tools for the development of imaging biomarkers, from first-in-human application and single-site reproducibility assessment to multi-centre clinical studies required for standardisation and potential certification of imaging biomarkers.
The NCITA CTU is directed by Professor Dow-Mu Koh (Institute of Cancer Research, London) and Professor Stuart Taylor (UCL) , and is integrated with the UCL Biomedical Research Council (BRC) Imaging Trials Unit.
Our statistical collaborator and advisor is Professor Sue Mallett , Professor in Diagnostic and Prognostic Medical Statistics, UCL, Centre for Medical Imaging.
Quality Assurance/ Quality Control Unit
The NCITA Quality Assurance and Quality Control Unit (QA/QC) aims to convert imaging biomarkers from undefined lab-based metrics into locked down, quality assured imaging toolkits for clinical use .
The QA/QC unit provides robust validation, standardisation, quality assurance and quality control support for MRI and nuclear imaging biomarker studies, from first-in-human to multi-site reproducibility assessment studies.
The QA/QC unit leverages the core strengths in imaging techniques and chemistry of our NCITA partners, including The University of Manchester, University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, King’s College London, Imperial College London, University College London and The ICR, in conjunction with the NCITA CTU and Repository Unit.
Our NCITA QA/QC unit has also established a National NCITA MR Core Lab to coordinate the implementation of standardised, quality-assured procedures for MRI and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) clinical research studies. This will help elevate the quality of MRI biomarkers to a level akin to nuclear imaging biomarkers, which is a current unmet need within cancer imaging research both in the UK and worldwide.
The NCITA Repository Unit provides an image repository and data management service for secure storage and sharing of anonymised imaging datasets between multicentre clinical trial sites. The repository is based on a comprehensive platform for secure archiving, processing and sharing of research imaging data previously developed by the CRUK Cancer Imaging Centres (CIC) initiative.
The Repository Unit aims to produce a sustainable repository for storage, processing and sharing of clinical imaging trial datasets for NCITA Exemplar studies, as well as data sharing with external academic and industrial partners.
The NCITA Repository Unit will also develop the platform to enable data clearance for release as a community resource, making possible the linking of curated imaging datasets to publications and generation of datasets for artificial intelligence opportunities and challenges.
The Repository Unit consists of a federation of institution-based XNAT nodes, each of which hosts a subset of the image data. The ICR/RMH XNAT Repository and UCL XNAT Service host the nodes at these two institutions and these websites contain lots of additional information on our activities.
The NCITA Engagement Group facilitates the NCITA infrastructure through engagement with imaging biomarker consumers (NHS, pharma, academic institutions, patient groups) and service providers (medical imaging, nuclear medicine and medical data management companies). The Engagement Group, in conjunction with the Governance Group, are establishing a Consensus Group of key stakeholders to agree the validation steps required for the translation of nuclear and magnetic resonance imaging biomarkers into clinical practice, the results of which will be published as Consensus papers.
The Engagement Group disseminates NCITA news, events and information through the NCITA website, social media, press releases and publications. Our publications include a Comment Article published in the British Journal of Cancer, an NCITA blog ‘ Delivering high quality clinical imaging research ‘ published by the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) and an article ‘ Advancing imaging biomarker development and translation through the National Cancer Imaging Translational Accelerator (NCITA) ‘ published in Research Outreach.
The Engagement Group also facilitates new industrial and academic collaborators to access NCITA infrastructure support for multicentre imaging biomarker studies, and Big Data research using imaging biomarker readouts.
The NCITA Training Group are continuing the educational training initiated by the CRUK Cancer Imaging Centres (CICs) by training the next generation of cancer imaging scientists through the organisation of regular training events and an annual national NCITA Conference. The Training Group support the NCITA network by developing bespoke training workshops relevant to the Exemplar projects, or projects adopted by the NCITA infrastructure.
The NCITA Training Group are also developing a platform of online teaching materials for NCITA staff as well as the broader cancer imaging community.
The NCITA Training Group is directed by Professor James O’Connor (Institute of Cancer Research and University of Manchester ).
Contracts Management Group
The NCITA Contracts Management Group is responsible for managing and completing all contracts required to meet NCITA’s strategic priorities. This includes the overarching collaboration agreements between the NCITA partner institutions and Cancer Research UK, as well contracts with external commercial and academic partners for studies adopted through the NCITA study adoption process.
The Contracts Management Group is developing a template study contract for collaborating institutions to reduce start-up times for multicentre clinical studies and improve study efficiency. The group includes contract management representatives from the 7 NCITA funded partner institutions and may also include, on an ad hoc basis, external commercial and non-partner academic contract representatives as required.