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We present a method for robustly detecting hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) in phase contrast microscopy images. HSCs appear to be easy to detect since they typically appear as round objects. However, when HSCs are touching and overlapping, showing the variations in shape and appearance, standard pattern detection methods, such as Hough transform and correlation, do not perform well. The proposed method exploits the output pattern of a ring filter bank applied to the input image, which consists of a series of matched filters with multiple-radius ring-shaped templates. By modeling the profile of each filter response as a quadratic surface, we explore the variations of peak curvatures and peak values of the filter responses when the ring radius varies. The method is validated on thousands of phase contrast microscopy images with different acquisition settings, achieving 96.5% precision and 94.4% recall.