Advanced imaging technologies are revolutionising biological and biomedical sciences, by enabling researchers to visualise and measure molecular, cellular and metabolic functions with unprecedented precision. Research Infrastructures (RIs) providing open access to imaging...
Advanced imaging technologies are revolutionising biological and biomedical sciences, by enabling researchers to visualise and measure molecular, cellular and metabolic functions with unprecedented precision. Research Infrastructures (RIs) providing open access to imaging instruments are key in unlocking the full potential of these state-of-the-art imaging technologies. However, operating successfully imaging RIs is associated with challenges in various areas such as user management and training, integration of new technologies and data management and analysis.
Recognizing that these challenges are universal rather than restricted by geographical boundaries, the Global BioImaging (GBI) project has enabled imaging facility operators and technical staff, scientists, managers and science policy officers from around the globe, to join forces and tackle them together.
The GBI project was initiated by Euro-BioImaging (EuBI) â€“ the pan-European research infrastructure for imaging technologies in biological and biomedical sciences on the ESFRI Roadmap â€“ and facilitated the development of a global network of imaging research infrastructures and communities in Europe, Argentina, Australia, Canada, India, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, South Africa and the USA. Having started in December 2015 with a collaboration between EuBI, Australia and India, the network has grown to include 10 partners within a 3 year period. Furthermore, the partners have succeeded in ensuring that the activities initiated by the project will be sustained beyond the duration of the H2020 award. GBI has enabled EuBI and its international partners to not only network but also engage in concrete services, such as staff exchange programs, training courses and virtual platforms for training in imaging technologies and image data tools. Via GBI, researchers, imaging facility managers and technicians around the world have the opportunity to exchange experiences and best practice on all topics related to imaging infrastructure operation.
During the projectâ€™s lifetime, GBIâ€™s overarching objective to enable multi-lateral international cooperation between Euro-BioImaging and its infrastructure counterparts worldwide was achieved.
To facilitate networking and the exchange of best practices amongst international imaging infrastructures, community building was essential. Bilateral interactions between the different partners were possible during the various GBI events (meetings, workshops, training courses) and were further strengthened during the annual â€œExchange of Experienceâ€ workshops, where the international GBI community came together and discussed key topics such as training, data and open access. These interactions led to the publication of 4 international recommendations on: â€œOpen user access in imaging facilitiesâ€; â€œQuality assurance and management in open access imaging infrastructuresâ€; â€œTraining courses for facility staffâ€; and â€œImage data standards and open access repositoriesâ€ (see https://www.globalbioimaging.org/documents).
The training needs of the international imaging community at large were identified and allowed the partners to design and deliver 5 international training courses for imaging core facility staff on the topics â€œFacility management and operationâ€ and â€œImage dataâ€. All training courses were very positively received by the scientific community as they addressed the need for an educational program to train facility staff.
Online e-learning tools on technologies and image data software were also developed in the framework of widening the training portfolio available to the imaging scientist. Thanks to a collaboration between EuBI and Microscopy Australia, a new module on Super-Resolution Microscopy was published on the Australian platform â€œMyScopeâ€. A common virtual platform for image data software tools â€“ called Image Tool Resource â€“ was also prepared in collaboration with two complementary projects, namely EuBI PPII and NEUBIAS COST Action. Both platforms have been designed with the goal of satisfying the need of the imaging community worldwide: to provide them with publicly available, on-line web-accessible resources for day-to-day use.
Finally, Global BioImaging launched and managed 3 rounds of job shadowing (staff exchange program), allowing facility staff to travel internationally to partner imaging infrastructures, learn from their peers and share with them different approaches to solve common problems. The program enjoyed such a great success that it will continue beyond the duration of the H2020 grant award.
The benefits these activities brought to the international imaging community led to the recognition of the positive impact international cooperation has on a scientistâ€™s life. In practical terms, they led to the signature of 4 collaboration agreements between EuBI on one side and Microscopy Australia, Australiaâ€™s National Imaging Facility, India-BioImaging and Japanâ€™s Advanced BioImaging Support on the other. Further agreements are in the pipeline and at different stages of preparation.
The Global BioImaging project overachieved its mission and was highlighted by the European Commission as a success story, as described in the article entitled â€œGlobal network of research infrastructures promotes bioimaging technologiesâ€ and published on the EC website (http://ec.europa.eu/research/infocentre/article_en.cfm?artid=49826). Indeed, the number of international partners has grown from 3 to 10 and the project has evolved into a sustainable network where the collaboration amongst all partners continues to grow stronger and stronger. The project has supported national initiatives to organize themselves and to have international impact, building a strong case for their infrastructure funding requests. This has contributed to the foundation of Japanâ€™s ABiS and Singaporeâ€™s Singascope. A more informal network called BioImaging North America, bringing together Canada, Mexico and the USA has also formed during the project lifetime, inspired by GBI cooperationâ€™s efforts. At the level of the scientific communities, Global BioImaging has strongly contributed to building capacity internationally, thanks to the organization of training courses and staff exchange programs for imaging facility staff. Conscious of the benefits this international collaboration has brought to all its partners, the GBI network aims at continuing its activities beyond the duration of the H2020 Grant Agreement, first based on in kind contributions by the partners.
With reference to socio-economic impact the projectâ€™s potential is relevant to society at large. Imaging technologies are increasingly key in the fight against cancer, infectious diseases, genetic disorders, ultimately improving our health across longer life-spans. As imaging technologies become more powerful, they will allow researchers to tackle grand societal challenges in health and aging. Another example is the role imaging science will have in helping us adapt to climate change by providing insights into plant biology and our planetâ€™s marine ecosystem; tackling food security issues and understanding how to increase crop yields in extreme conditions. By linking imaging communities and infrastructures worldwide, Global BioImaging allows the scientific community to address these challenges with greater speed and efficacy, ultimately advancing knowledge and progress.
More info: https://www.globalbioimaging.org/.