Did you know that all University of Birmingham staff and students can use MATLAB for FREE? This numerical computation software allows you to create custom plots and models, develop algorithms, analyse data and visualise data sets. MATLAB can be particularly useful for analysing medical imaging data. Online training materials are available and there is a UoB MATLAB mailing list and user group. 

What is MATLAB?


MATLAB® is an extremely comprehensive tool for numerical computation, visualisation and programming. It is the de facto standard for scientific analysis.

What can it be used for?

You can use MATLAB in a wide range of applications, including computational biology, statistical analysis, image processing, communications, test and measurement. It is possible to evaluate large amounts of data that are acquired automatically from computers and other equipment such as scanners and microscopes. Other uses include:

  • Numerical and scientific computing
  • Algorithm development
  • Data acquisition
  • Modelling, simulation, and prototyping
  • Data analysis, exploration, and visualisation
  • Scientific and engineering graphics
  • Application development, including graphical user interface building 
  • Signal processing and data analysis
  • Machine Learning and artificial intelligence
  • Control systems

The Medical context


MATLAB has image and data processing capabilities, so can be used for analysis of medical imaging data, such as in nuclear medicine, CT, MRI and fluorescein angiogram images. UoB researchers have also used image analysis on microscope and other types of images to detect disease such as breast cancer. MATLAB has been used to model all of the interactions between chemistry and genetics in a bacterial cell infecting a lung. This was to identify essential chemical reactions that could potentially be targeted with drugs, thus stopping the reaction, killing the bacteria and curing the infection. MATLAB’s powerful visual modelling/simulation environment is called Simulink .


MathWorks have produced a number of videos on uses of MATLAB in medicine :

User stories related to medical applications:

  1. Lund University Develops an Artificial Neural Network for Matching Heart Transplant Donors with Recipients
  2. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Improves MRI Accuracy
  3. Cochlear Ltd. Streamlines Development of Cochlear Implant Sound Processing Algorithms

How to install MATLAB: Installation detail

Training and Support materials : Resources

All images courtesy of MathWorks and National Biomedical Image Archive