Increasing the impact of medical image computing using community-based open-access hackathons: The NA-MIC and 3D Slicer experience

Tina Kapur, Steve Pieper, Andriy Fedorov, J. C. Fillion-Robin, Michael Halle, Lauren O'Donnell, Andras Lasso, Tamas Ungi, Csaba Pinter, Julien Finet, Sonia Pujol, Jayender Jagadeesan, Junichi Tokuda, Isaiah Norton, Raul San Jose Estepar, David Gering, Hugo J W L Aerts, Marianna Jakab, Nobuhiko Hata, Luiz IbanezDaniel Blezek, Jim Miller, Stephen Aylward, W. Eric L Grimson, Gabor Fichtinger, William M. Wells, William E. Lorensen, Will Schroeder, Ron Kikinis

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review


The National Alliance for Medical Image Computing (NA-MIC) was launched in 2004 with the goal of investigating and developing an open source software infrastructure for the extraction of information and knowledge from medical images using computational methods. Several leading research and engineering groups participated in this effort that was funded by the US National Institutes of Health through a variety of infrastructure grants. This effort transformed 3D Slicer from an internal, Boston-based, academic research software application into a professionally maintained, robust, open source platform with an international leadership and developer and user communities. Critical improvements to the widely used underlying open source libraries and tools—VTK, ITK, CMake, CDash, DCMTK—were an additional consequence of this effort. This project has contributed to close to a thousand peer-reviewed publications and a growing portfolio of US and international funded efforts expanding the use of these tools in new medical computing applications every year. In this editorial, we discuss what we believe are gaps in the way medical image computing is pursued today; how a well-executed research platform can enable discovery, innovation and reproducible science (“Open Science”); and how our quest to build such a software platform has evolved into a productive and rewarding social engineering exercise in building an open-access community with a shared vision.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)176-180
Number of pages5
JournalMedical Image Analysis
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • 3D Slicer
  • Hackathon
  • Medical image computing
  • NA-MIC
  • Open access
  • Open science
  • Open source
  • Project week
  • Reproducible research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Health Informatics
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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