Cliniface Goes From Strength to Strength

The Cliniface project began its journey with the objective of reducing the time needed to produce analysis-ready facial images via data cleaning.

Little did the Cliniface team know that six years on, the 3D facial analysis platform would advance to provide functionality for a multitude of applications and research projects including assisting with rare disease diagnosis, assessing the efficacy of medical treatments, surgical planning, screening for Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, understanding the severity of breathing obstruction in new born babies, investigating how facial features correlate with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and quantifying the face shape of Aboriginal Australians as well as other ethnic groups around the world.

The open source platform, coupled with the collaborative team approach, was the most effective pathway to utilisation. The investment has paid off and the software is now being used by clinicians, researchers, and commercial organisations across the globe.  The software has been downloaded more than 3,500 times and the Cliniface team now has collaborations with more than eight organisations across 4 continents co-developing multiple aspects of 3D facial analysis through various research projects.

Clinical Geneticist and Team Leader, Professor Gareth Baynam, of Genetic Services Western Australia commented,

It is truly exciting to see the breadth of applications of this technology, and how we are also partnering with other digital health approaches, like genomics and AI. The diverse range of partnerships, the community engagement, and a focus on health equity, including Aboriginal health are central to the team’s vision and mission. I am excited by next steps including partnering Cliniface with the universal indigenous medical translator initiative, Lyfe Languages.”

Lead software developer, Dr Richard Palmer of Curtin University said

It’s amazing to be a part of this project working with so many talented people around the world. Researchers and clinicians of different stripes are all using Cliniface in so many more ways than we originally envisioned, and the feedback from our users helps us to improve the platform for everyone else – whether that’s simply fixing a bug or adding in some cool new feature. In the truest sense, our global userbase collaborates to build a better Cliniface for everyone. Currently, we’re focussing on refining the platform’s existing analytic tools, as well as adding in new features to leverage state-of-the-art improvements in 3D face shape estimation from 2D photos. We’re also working to validate many of Cliniface’s analytic approaches through our ongoing research collaborations.”

Paula Fiévez, of FrontierSI, who leads stakeholder engagement expressed how mind-boggling it can get talking with the different collaborators about their specialised use cases for Cliniface.

We are all learning so much from one another and the strength of the program is largely due to that willingness to learn, share and explore together with each party mindful of the constraints and sensitivities of the other”.

The latest Cliniface partnership is with global pharmaceutical company Takeda Pharmaceuticals, and together with the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) – the largest paediatric hospital in Singapore – Cliniface is now exploring variations in facial traits for patients suffering with rare genetic conditions, and the changes in those features relative to timing and dosage of drug administration. Dr Saumya Jamuar, the clinical lead at KKH and head of the SingHealth Duke-NUS Genomic Medicine Centre, has been pivotal in gaining wide support throughout the Singapore healthcare system to make this project possible. He said,

I am grateful for the support received from colleagues who are providing access to 3D photography and space to capture patient images as well as our IT and clinical staff who are advising our team along the way.  It has been a very positive experience working with the teams at Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Cliniface in Western Australia.  The enthusiasm and passion to drive progress to improve the patient journey is commendable and we are excited to be part of this.”

At the heart of the Cliniface project is the team’s vision to enable a collaborative community of research to advance precision health and ultimately improve the lives of patients (diagnosed and undiagnosed) living with rare, genetic, and other conditions across the globe. This is only possible through the continued support of our many fundraisers, sponsors, and supporters.

For more information about the Cliniface project portfolio, multi-disciplinary team, collaborators and supporters visit the Cliniface website at https://cliniface.org/ or contact Head of Partner Engagement & Health Lead, Paula Fiévez at pfievez@frontiersi.com.au