Published on 23.04.2024

Helmholtz Imaging Receives Funding for Two Projects under the Helmholtz Foundation Model Initiative

Image: ChatGPT. Prompt: MRI image of the knee with a touch of AI

In February 2024, the Helmholtz Association launched the Helmholtz Foundation Model Initiative, a strategic program aimed at exploiting recent AI advancements and the concept of “Foundation Models.” Helmholtz Imaging served as a driving force in shaping this grass-roots initiative jointly with Helmholtz AI, the Helmholtz Information and Data Science Incubator and the greater Helmholtz AI community, seeking to foster pilot projects that transform research data into powerful scientific discovery tools.

Following a call for high-impact pilot projects within the Helmholtz Association, four projects and an overarching Synergy Unit have now been awarded funding. Over a period of three years, the projects will receive funding totaling 11 million euros. An additional 12 million euros will be invested in expanding necessary infrastructure.

Among these, Helmholtz Imaging is leading two projects: the Human Radiome Project and the Synergy Unit. The Human Radiome Project is a collaborative effort involving partners from Helmholtz Centers, industry, academia and medical facilities. It aims to consolidate a vast array of 3D radiological images, such as MRIs and CT scans, into a foundational AI model, striving to deepen our understanding of human anatomy and pathologies. By representing the full spectrum of radiologic information, the “Human Radiome” is set to enhance personalized medicine, seamlessly integrating with non-imaging modalities, such as language or genomics, for intuitive application and powerful clinical decision making.

Paul Jäger, co-initiator of the Human Radiome Project, stated, “The Human Radiome Project aims to drive a paradigm shift in medical research, providing novel insights into human health and disease through the power of AI. By integrating a wide range of radiological data, we strive to pave the way for groundbreaking advancements in personalized medicine, improving the accuracy of diagnoses and the quality of patient care.”

The Synergy Unit, initiated by Helmholtz Imaging and Helmholtz AI, aims to amplify the impact of the HFMI on research across different fields. Working closely with all pilot projects, the Synergy Unit develops general principles for AI model creation and usage across various domains. Knowledge dissemination, community building and representation complement the Synergy Unit’s approach, ensuring lasting impact of the initiative.

Dagmar Kainmüller, co-initiator and spokesperson for the initiative, emphasized, “With the Synergy Unit we gladly continue to serve as representatives and drivers of HFMI; At the same time we are very excited to leverage the outstanding infrastructure of the Helmholtz Association, comprising its cross-center Information and Data Science Framework as well as its wealth of vast and diverse data, as a unique stage for methodological advances in AI for research data. To this end, we very much look forward to collaborating very closely with our fantastic pilot projects and further Helmholtz-based foundation model endeavors in a broad comparative approach, where we derive general principles and best practices for efficient and effective foundation model development, deployment, and adaptation.”

More information, including details on all four funded projects, is available in this press release by the Helmholtz Association

About HFMI

The Helmholtz Association with its 18 centers and large-scale facilities is a world leader in the generation of cutting-edge research data. The challenge of leveraging these vast amounts of data for scientific progress requires synergistic data analysis solutions that can be universally applied across various analysis tasks and data domains. Recent advancements in AI research have given rise to a transformative paradigm designed precisely for this challenge: “Foundation models.” These models are trained on vast and diverse datasets at scale, making them highly adaptable to solve a wide range of tasks. With its unparalleled data repositories across six Research Fields and the robust infrastructure of its Information and Data Science Framework, the Helmholtz Association is uniquely positioned to forge cutting-edge foundation models. Thus, Helmholtz launched the Helmholtz Foundation Model Initiative (HFMI), a systematic approach to developing generalist AI models in a synergistic manner. Initially, HFMI will fund four Pilot Projects and an overarching Synergy Unit. Resulting open-source models are anticipated to significantly expedite data analysis and are designed to be shared globally, ensuring that our association’s pioneering role extends its benefits and leadership to the broader research community around the world.