I was working with a colleague over at the JR this morning scanning in biopsy slides for one of the projects I am involved in. This is going to a boon to the study, enabling the pathologists involved to access the slides with ease of use and quality at least as good as real microscopes but without having to transport the slides themselves from site to site.
If we had this facility at the start of the study, it would definitely have been built in but I am having to bolt it on. It stands out to me as an excellent example of how things move forward. Three years ago, these kind of devices certainly existed but weren’t available to us. Now several of the labs round Oxford have slide scanners and image distribution servers, along with processes to make them available to researchers. We would have been relying on a local pathologist to manually take a series of photographic images of each slide; now we can scan the whole lot in and provide the equivalent of putting each one directly on a microscope rather than a very limited subsample.
Sometimes you can solve a problem with hard work or clever programming; sometimes you just need to wait a while.