Conference Report: EG VCBM 2015 Chester (UK)

Recently I had the pleasure of attending the Eurographics Workshop on Visual Computing for Biology and Medicine (VCBM) 2015 conference for the third and potentially, but not hopefully, last time. This year it was held in Chester (UK) at The Riverside Innovation Centre at the University of, you guessed it, Chester! In this conference report I will summarize some personal highlights. Repeating last year’s tradition, I again tweeted a picture for almost every talk. I still don’t think Twitter is really gaining traction among the scivis community, and I wonder what it would take to change it (or if it even needs to change ^^). As every year, given the theme of the conference almost every talk is relevant to our medical visualization interests, but I would like to briefly summarize only a couple of them here. Check the full list of papers and posters presented here if this is not enough to satiate your VCBM-craving-needs.

The day before VCBM started, the day also known as Sunday, a lot of the workshop attendees already arrived to Chester and we had a chance to explore the city a bit followed by a meet and greet/dinner/beer drinking/gathering of cool people at The Architect pub. It is always great to see familiar faces and new faces at such events and a great warm-up for the workshop itself.

The View from The Architect. I don’t recall if our sky looked that pretty though 😉

Monday marked the first day of the VCBM workshop and after the opening by Nigel John, we got treated to a keynote by Professor Denis Noble, a British biologist and one of the pioneers in systems biology. Due to personal circumstances, he was unable to attend and delivered the whole keynote via Skype. I have to admit I have a limited understanding of biology and I had a tough time following the talk, but people more knowledgeable than me (basically everyone else ^^), told me it was awesome 🙂

We had a grand total of three sessions during the rest of the day on Segmentation and Registration, Molecular Visualization and Visual Analytics, and Volume Visualization.

  • Segmentation and Registration:
    • The first talk of the session was really great already, setting the tone for the rest of the day. Haichao Miao presented “CoWRadar: Visual Quantification of the Circle of Willis in Stroke Patients.” [1]. In their work, the cerebral arteries forming the Circle of Willis (CoW, see what they did there?) are visually quantified using an automated method for the standardized description of these vessels. An extensive evaluation using 63 TOF-MRA datasets was just the icing on the already impressive research cake. Excellent work!
  • Molecular Visualization and Visual Analytics:
    • I missed some talks in this session for reasons (of the presentation preparation kind), but did arrive in time to see Mathieu le Muzic present his excellent work on “CellVIEW: Illustrative Multi-scale Rendering of Large Biomolecular Datasets” [2]. Again, I do not know much about all this molecule business, but I do know a great open source tool when I see one, implemented in a game engine no less 😉 CellVIEW is freely available here, so check it out!
  • Volume Visualization:
    • Simon Walton delivered a highly entertaining talk entitled “Motion-moderated 2D Transfer Function for Volume Rendering 4D CMR Data”. He just about gave me a heart attack when he announced he would be defending the rainbow colormap, but I think he pulled it off ^^. In their work, they adjust the traditional transfer function used in volume rendering to include motion.
    • Since the first author and contributor Kai Lawonn regretfully could not make it to VCBM, I was tasked with presenting our work on “Illustrative Multi-volume Rendering for PET/CT Scans” [4]. In this work, we present illustrative focus-and context visualization techniques specifically designed for use with multi-modal PET/CT data, to combine metabolic information from the PET with anatomical information from the CT. There is a video, but I strongly recommend you to turn off the sound 😉

In the evening, we were first treated to a guided tour of the old city walls by Nigel and his wife. Chester is really a beautiful city with many historic sights to see and this walk along the city walls gave us a tour of many of these.

Chester and its lovely black and white houses

After the walk, we went to The Abode, which was not, as some had hoped, a boat, but rather an extremely fancy dining experience. Delicious dinner was had and several people may or may not have gone out dancing after this ;).

The last day of VCBM had two paper sessions, Visual Computing for Vessel Structures (or as Ivan Viola named it: the Katja Bühler and Bernard Preim session), followed by Haptics and Interaction:

  • Visual Computing for Vessel Structures:
  • Haptics and Interaction:
    • Julian Hettig delivered a talk on ”Exploration of 3D Medical Image Data for Interventional Radiology using Myoelectric Gesture Control” [6]. This work dealt with interaction with medical imaging data during surgery. Since everything needs to be sterile, Julian developed a method to interact with the data using a Myo Gesture Control armband that can be worn under a surgical gown.
    • Christian Schultze zu Berge presented his work entitled ”Schematic Electrode Map for Navigation in Neuro Data Sets” [7], featuring a novel visualization method to simplify the navigation in the complex and multi-modal neuro data sets. Using a force-directed graph model, they lay out a schematic electrode providing an overview of the topology of the implanted depth electrode configuration.

At the end of the last day, Stephane Cotin delivered an excellent keynote on simulation in medicine. The application of INRIA’s work to worldwide surgical training for cataract treatment especially was very inspiring:  I mean, just looking at surgeons poking into those virtual eyeballs made me a bit squeamish, which really says something about the realism of their simulation ^^. For those interested in simulation, the simulation open framework architecture SOFA also looked very interesting.

VCBM ended another great workshop with the the awards ceremony. The honorable mentions and best paper went to *drumroll*:

I mentioned two of these papers already, but the Magdeburg survey on Cardiac 4D PC-MRI data processing is also highly recommended reading [8]. Congratulations once again to the well-deserved award winners. Helwig Hauser announced next year’s VCBM will be in, you guessed it, Bergen – Norway! I have no doubt this will be another great workshop, and highly recommend preparing a submission for it, if you get the chance.

I would like to conclude this summary by thanking the organizers for another excellent workshop. As I write almost every year, great talks, great people, great location, great food and a great workshop! Hope to see you there next year 🙂



  • [1]: CoWRadar: Visual Quantification of the Circle of Willis in Stroke Patients. Miao, Haichao; Mistelbauer, Gabriel; Gröller, Eduard
  • [2]: CellVIEW: Illustrative Multi-scale Rendering of Large Biomolecular Datasets. le Muzic, Mathieu; Autin, Ludovic; Parulek, Julius; Viola, Ivan
  • [3]: Motion-moderated 2D Transfer Function for Volume Rendering 4D CMR Data. Walton, Simon; Chen, Min; Holloway, Cameron
  • [4]: Illustrative Multi-volume Rendering for PET/CT Scans. Lawonn, Kai; Smit, Noeska; Preim, Bernhard; Vilanova, Anna
  • [5]: Histology-Based Evaluation of Optical Coherence Tomographic Characteristics of the Cerebral Artery Wall via Virtual Inflating. Glasser, Sylvia; Hoffmann, Thomas; Boese, Axel; Voß, Samuel; Kalinski, Thomas ; Skalej, Martin; Preim, Bernhard
  • [6]: Exploration of 3D Medical Image Data for Interventional Radiology using Myoelectric Gesture Control. Hettig, Julian; Mewes, André; Riabikin, Oleksandr; Skalej, Martin; Preim, Bernhard; Hansen, Christian
  • [7]: Schematic Electrode Map for Navigation in Neuro Data Sets. Schulte zu Berge, Christian; Weiss, Jakob; Navab, Nassir
  • [8]: A Survey of Cardiac 4D PC-MRI Data Processing. Köhler, Benjamin; Born, Silvia; van Pelt, Roy; Preim, Uta; Preim, Bernhard

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