2006 FOSS Abstract Kikinis

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Title: FOSS - Free Open Source Software

Author:

Ron Kikinis, M.D.

Surgical Planning Laboratory

Radiology; ASBI, L1-050

Brigham & Women's Hospital

75 Francis St.

Boston, MA 02115

kikinis at bwh.harvard.edu


Free Open Source Software (FOSS) can potentially change the way that research is performed in image-guided therapy (IGT). Currently there is very limited interaction between FDA approved commercial software that in clinical routine use and non-FDA approved research software used for clinical research. A large scale FOSS effort that has the potential to bridge this gap has been adopted by the National Alliance for Medical Image Computing (NAMIC), funded by the National Institutes of Health through the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research, Grant U54 EB005149. This effort has been adopted and extended for IGT by the National Center for Image Guided Therapy (NCIGT) funded by the NIH Biomedical Technology Resource Center Grant U41 RR019703. In order for FOSS to maximally impact clinical research, it needs to co-exist and be inter-operable with FDA approved commercial software and devices. Such integration requires the development of well-characterized open interfaces to these proprietary devices and software environments. As part of this effort by NA-MIC and NCIGT, tools and methodologies have been developed that allow for quality assurance and performance characterization, and packaged into what is called the "NA-MIC Kit". Facilities provided by the FOSS NA-MIC kit, for instance, allow scientists to share research infrastructure such as file readers, visualization modules and interfaces to devices such as trackers, image acquisition scanners and robots. Opentracker is an example of software with an open interface that works with several proprietary tracking systems and an active effort is underway in NCIGT to integrate it with the NA-MIC kit and enable IGT researchers to work at the same time with equipment from different vendors.

Last but not least, the "openness" of software is tied in closely with the software license that governs it. The NA-MIC FOSS effort has adopted a BSD style open source license for its infrastructure software. This open source license allows commercial entities to build on this platform and to create value-add versions of the software for commercial use.