Imaging has become a prevalent tool in the diagnosis and treatment of many diseases, providing a unique in vivo, multi-scale view of anatomic and physiologic processes. With the increased use of imaging and its progressive technical advances, the role of imaging informatics is now evolving–from one of managing images, to one of integrating the full scope of clinical information needed to contextualize and link observations across phenotypic and genotypic scales. Several challenges exist for imaging informatics, including the need for methods to transform clinical imaging studies and associated data into structured information that can be organized and analyzed. We examine some of these challenges in establishing imaging-based observational databases that can support the creation of comprehensive disease models. The development of these databases and ensuing models can aid in medical decision making and knowledge discovery and ultimately, transform the use of imaging to support individually-tailored patient care.