Astronomy was among the first disciplines to embrace Big Data and use it to characterize spatial relationships between stars and galaxies. Today, medicine, in particular pathology, has similar needs with regard to characterizing the spatial relationships between cells, with an emphasis on understanding the organization of the tumor microenvironment. In this article, we chronicle the emergence of data-intensive science through the development of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and describe how analysis patterns and approaches similarly apply to multiplex immunofluorescence (mIF) pathology image exploration. The lessons learned from astronomy are detailed, and the new AstroPath platform that capitalizes on these learnings is described. AstroPath is being used to generate and display tumor-immune maps that can be used for mIF immuno-oncology biomarker development. The development of AstroPath as an open resource for visualizing and analyzing large-scale spatially resolved mIF datasets is underway, akin to how publicly available maps of the sky have been used by astronomers and citizen scientists alike. Associated technical, academic, and funding considerations, as well as extended future development for inclusion of spatial transcriptomics and application of artificial intelligence, are also addressed.

You do not currently have access to this content.