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In IEEE transactions on medical imaging ; h5-index 74.0

Data annotation is a fundamental precursor for establishing large training sets to effectively apply deep learning methods to medical image analysis. For cell segmentation, obtaining high quality annotations is an expensive process that usually requires manual grading by experts. This work introduces an approach to efficiently generate annotated images, called "A-GANs", created by combining an active cell appearance model (ACAM) with conditional generative adversarial networks (C-GANs). ACAM is a statistical model that captures a realistic range of cell characteristics and is used to ensure that the image statistics of generated cells are guided by real data. C-GANs utilize cell contours generated by ACAM to produce cells that match input contours. By pairing ACAM-generated contours with A-GANs-based generated images, high quality annotated images can be efficiently generated. Experimental results on adaptive optics (AO) retinal images showed that A-GANs robustly synthesizes realistic, artificial images whose cell distributions are exquisitely specified by ACAM. The cell segmentation performance using as few as 64 manually-annotated real AO images combined with 248 artificially-generated images from A-GANs were similar to the case of using 248 manually-annotated real images alone (Dice coefficients of 88% for both). Finally, application to rare diseases in which images exhibit never-seen characteristics demonstrated improvements in cell segmentation without the need for incorporating manual annotations from these new retinal images. Overall, A-GANs introduce a methodology for generating high quality annotated data that statistically captures the characteristics of any desired dataset and can be used to more efficiently train deep-learning-based medical image analysis applications.

Liu Jianfei, Shen Christine, Aguilera Nancy, Cukras Catherine, Hufnagel Robert B, Zein Wadih M, Liua Tao, Tam Johnny