Task-specific deep learning models in histopathology offer promising opportunities for improving diagnosis, clinical research, and precision medicine. However, development of such models is often limited by availability of high-quality data. Foundation models in histopathology that learn general representations across a wide range of tissue types, diagnoses, and magnifications offer the potential to reduce the data, compute, and technical expertise necessary to develop task-specific deep learning models with the required level of model performance. In this work, we describe the development and evaluation of foundation models for histopathology via self-supervised learning (SSL). We first establish a diverse set of benchmark tasks involving 17 unique tissue types and 12 unique cancer types and spanning different optimal magnifications and task types. Next, we use this benchmark to explore and evaluate histopathology-specific SSL methods followed by further evaluation on held out patch-level and weakly supervised tasks. We found that standard SSL methods thoughtfully applied to histopathology images are performant across our benchmark tasks and that domain-specific methodological improvements can further increase performance. Our findings reinforce the value of using domain-specific SSL methods in pathology, and establish a set of high quality foundation models to enable further research across diverse applications.
Recent artificial intelligence (AI) systems have reached milestones in "grand challenges" ranging from Go to protein-folding. The capability to retrieve medical knowledge, reason over it, and answer medical questions comparably to physicians has long been viewed as one such grand challenge. Large language models (LLMs) have catalyzed significant progress in medical question answering; Med-PaLM was the first model to exceed a "passing" score in US Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) style questions with a score of 67.2% on the MedQA dataset. However, this and other prior work suggested significant room for improvement, especially when models' answers were compared to clinicians' answers. Here we present Med-PaLM 2, which bridges these gaps by leveraging a combination of base LLM improvements (PaLM 2), medical domain finetuning, and prompting strategies including a novel ensemble refinement approach. Med-PaLM 2 scored up to 86.5% on the MedQA dataset, improving upon Med-PaLM by over 19% and setting a new state-of-the-art. We also observed performance approaching or exceeding state-of-the-art across MedMCQA, PubMedQA, and MMLU clinical topics datasets. We performed detailed human evaluations on long-form questions along multiple axes relevant to clinical applications. In pairwise comparative ranking of 1066 consumer medical questions, physicians preferred Med-PaLM 2 answers to those produced by physicians on eight of nine axes pertaining to clinical utility (p < 0.001). We also observed significant improvements compared to Med-PaLM on every evaluation axis (p < 0.001) on newly introduced datasets of 240 long-form "adversarial" questions to probe LLM limitations. While further studies are necessary to validate the efficacy of these models in real-world settings, these results highlight rapid progress towards physician-level performance in medical question answering.
Recent progress in Medical Artificial Intelligence (AI) has delivered systems that can reach clinical expert level performance. However, such systems tend to demonstrate sub-optimal "out-of-distribution" performance when evaluated in clinical settings different from the training environment. A common mitigation strategy is to develop separate systems for each clinical setting using site-specific data . However, this quickly becomes impractical as medical data is time-consuming to acquire and expensive to annotate . Thus, the problem of "data-efficient generalization" presents an ongoing difficulty for Medical AI development. Although progress in representation learning shows promise, their benefits have not been rigorously studied, specifically for out-of-distribution settings. To meet these challenges, we present REMEDIS, a unified representation learning strategy to improve robustness and data-efficiency of medical imaging AI. REMEDIS uses a generic combination of large-scale supervised transfer learning with self-supervised learning and requires little task-specific customization. We study a diverse range of medical imaging tasks and simulate three realistic application scenarios using retrospective data. REMEDIS exhibits significantly improved in-distribution performance with up to 11.5% relative improvement in diagnostic accuracy over a strong supervised baseline. More importantly, our strategy leads to strong data-efficient generalization of medical imaging AI, matching strong supervised baselines using between 1% to 33% of retraining data across tasks. These results suggest that REMEDIS can significantly accelerate the life-cycle of medical imaging AI development thereby presenting an important step forward for medical imaging AI to deliver broad impact.
Gleason grading of prostate cancer is an important prognostic factor but suffers from poor reproducibility, particularly among non-subspecialist pathologists. Although artificial intelligence (A.I.) tools have demonstrated Gleason grading on-par with expert pathologists, it remains an open question whether A.I. grading translates to better prognostication. In this study, we developed a system to predict prostate-cancer specific mortality via A.I.-based Gleason grading and subsequently evaluated its ability to risk-stratify patients on an independent retrospective cohort of 2,807 prostatectomy cases from a single European center with 5-25 years of follow-up (median: 13, interquartile range 9-17). The A.I.'s risk scores produced a C-index of 0.84 (95%CI 0.80-0.87) for prostate cancer-specific mortality. Upon discretizing these risk scores into risk groups analogous to pathologist Grade Groups (GG), the A.I. had a C-index of 0.82 (95%CI 0.78-0.85). On the subset of cases with a GG in the original pathology report (n=1,517), the A.I.'s C-indices were 0.87 and 0.85 for continuous and discrete grading, respectively, compared to 0.79 (95%CI 0.71-0.86) for GG obtained from the reports. These represent improvements of 0.08 (95%CI 0.01-0.15) and 0.07 (95%CI 0.00-0.14) respectively. Our results suggest that A.I.-based Gleason grading can lead to effective risk-stratification and warrants further evaluation for improving disease management.
Deriving interpretable prognostic features from deep-learning-based prognostic histopathology models remains a challenge. In this study, we developed a deep learning system (DLS) for predicting disease specific survival for stage II and III colorectal cancer using 3,652 cases (27,300 slides). When evaluated on two validation datasets containing 1,239 cases (9,340 slides) and 738 cases (7,140 slides) respectively, the DLS achieved a 5-year disease-specific survival AUC of 0.70 (95%CI 0.66-0.73) and 0.69 (95%CI 0.64-0.72), and added significant predictive value to a set of 9 clinicopathologic features. To interpret the DLS, we explored the ability of different human-interpretable features to explain the variance in DLS scores. We observed that clinicopathologic features such as T-category, N-category, and grade explained a small fraction of the variance in DLS scores (R2=18% in both validation sets). Next, we generated human-interpretable histologic features by clustering embeddings from a deep-learning based image-similarity model and showed that they explain the majority of the variance (R2 of 73% to 80%). Furthermore, the clustering-derived feature most strongly associated with high DLS scores was also highly prognostic in isolation. With a distinct visual appearance (poorly differentiated tumor cell clusters adjacent to adipose tissue), this feature was identified by annotators with 87.0-95.5% accuracy. Our approach can be used to explain predictions from a prognostic deep learning model and uncover potentially-novel prognostic features that can be reliably identified by people for future validation studies.
Prognostic information at diagnosis has important implications for cancer treatment and monitoring. Although cancer staging, histopathological assessment, molecular features, and clinical variables can provide useful prognostic insights, improving risk stratification remains an active research area. We developed a deep learning system (DLS) to predict disease specific survival across 10 cancer types from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). We used a weakly-supervised approach without pixel-level annotations, and tested three different survival loss functions. The DLS was developed using 9,086 slides from 3,664 cases and evaluated using 3,009 slides from 1,216 cases. In multivariable Cox regression analysis of the combined cohort including all 10 cancers, the DLS was significantly associated with disease specific survival (hazard ratio of 1.58, 95% CI 1.28-1.70, p<0.0001) after adjusting for cancer type, stage, age, and sex. In a per-cancer adjusted subanalysis, the DLS remained a significant predictor of survival in 5 of 10 cancer types. Compared to a baseline model including stage, age, and sex, the c-index of the model demonstrated an absolute 3.7% improvement (95% CI 1.0-6.5) in the combined cohort. Additionally, our models stratified patients within individual cancer stages, particularly stage II (p=0.025) and stage III (p<0.001). By developing and evaluating prognostic models across multiple cancer types, this work represents one of the most comprehensive studies exploring the direct prediction of clinical outcomes using deep learning and histopathology images. Our analysis demonstrates the potential for this approach to provide prognostic information in multiple cancer types, and even within specific pathologic stages. However, given the relatively small number of clinical events, we observed wide confidence intervals, suggesting that future work will benefit from larger datasets.
For prostate cancer patients, the Gleason score is one of the most important prognostic factors, potentially determining treatment independent of the stage. However, Gleason scoring is based on subjective microscopic examination of tumor morphology and suffers from poor reproducibility. Here we present a deep learning system (DLS) for Gleason scoring whole-slide images of prostatectomies. Our system was developed using 112 million pathologist-annotated image patches from 1,226 slides, and evaluated on an independent validation dataset of 331 slides, where the reference standard was established by genitourinary specialist pathologists. On the validation dataset, the mean accuracy among 29 general pathologists was 0.61. The DLS achieved a significantly higher diagnostic accuracy of 0.70 (p=0.002) and trended towards better patient risk stratification in correlations to clinical follow-up data. Our approach could improve the accuracy of Gleason scoring and subsequent therapy decisions, particularly where specialist expertise is unavailable. The DLS also goes beyond the current Gleason system to more finely characterize and quantitate tumor morphology, providing opportunities for refinement of the Gleason system itself.
The damage personal attacks cause to online discourse motivates many platforms to try to curb the phenomenon. However, understanding the prevalence and impact of personal attacks in online platforms at scale remains surprisingly difficult. The contribution of this paper is to develop and illustrate a method that combines crowdsourcing and machine learning to analyze personal attacks at scale. We show an evaluation method for a classifier in terms of the aggregated number of crowd-workers it can approximate. We apply our methodology to English Wikipedia, generating a corpus of over 100k high quality human-labeled comments and 63M machine-labeled ones from a classifier that is as good as the aggregate of 3 crowd-workers, as measured by the area under the ROC curve and Spearman correlation. Using this corpus of machine-labeled scores, our methodology allows us to explore some of the open questions about the nature of online personal attacks. This reveals that the majority of personal attacks on Wikipedia are not the result of a few malicious users, nor primarily the consequence of allowing anonymous contributions from unregistered users.