Nuclear segmentation, classification and quantification within Haematoxylin & Eosin stained histology images enables the extraction of interpretable cell-based features that can be used in downstream explainable models in computational pathology (CPath). However, automatic recognition of different nuclei is faced with a major challenge in that there are several different types of nuclei, some of them exhibiting large intra-class variability. To help drive forward research and innovation for automatic nuclei recognition in CPath, we organise the Colon Nuclei Identification and Counting (CoNIC) Challenge. The challenge encourages researchers to develop algorithms that perform segmentation, classification and counting of nuclei within the current largest known publicly available nuclei-level dataset in CPath, containing around half a million labelled nuclei. Therefore, the CoNIC challenge utilises over 10 times the number of nuclei as the previous largest challenge dataset for nuclei recognition. It is important for algorithms to be robust to input variation if we wish to deploy them in a clinical setting. Therefore, as part of this challenge we will also test the sensitivity of each submitted algorithm to certain input variations.
Recent advances in whole slide imaging (WSI) technology have led to the development of a myriad of computer vision and artificial intelligence (AI) based diagnostic, prognostic, and predictive algorithms. Computational Pathology (CPath) offers an integrated solution to utilize information embedded in pathology WSIs beyond what we obtain through visual assessment. For automated analysis of WSIs and validation of machine learning (ML) models, annotations at the slide, tissue and cellular levels are required. The annotation of important visual constructs in pathology images is an important component of CPath projects. Improper annotations can result in algorithms which are hard to interpret and can potentially produce inaccurate and inconsistent results. Despite the crucial role of annotations in CPath projects, there are no well-defined guidelines or best practices on how annotations should be carried out. In this paper, we address this shortcoming by presenting the experience and best practices acquired during the execution of a large-scale annotation exercise involving a multidisciplinary team of pathologists, ML experts and researchers as part of the Pathology image data Lake for Analytics, Knowledge and Education (PathLAKE) consortium. We present a real-world case study along with examples of different types of annotations, diagnostic algorithm, annotation data dictionary and annotation constructs. The analyses reported in this work highlight best practice recommendations that can be used as annotation guidelines over the lifecycle of a CPath project.