From anatomy to atoms: Euro-BioImaging zooms in on research from around the world

5 Mar 2020

The world’s most extensive network of open-access imaging facilities – Euro-BioImaging – began operations across Europe in December 2019. It welcomes all researchers.

Euro-BioImaging is a research infrastructure consortium that brings together Europe’s best imaging facilities and expertise. Offering open access to biological, multi-model-molecular and medical imaging services, the consortium is organised into three hubs that serve 21 centres of excellence – or nodes – in nine European countries.

“Euro-BioImaging is the gateway to European excellence in imaging for life sciences researchers,” says interim-director Professor John Eriksson from Finland. “All of the facilities are excellent and open for anyone to use, with nominal fees. We provide training, data management services and access to some of the best imaging equipment in the world.”

A pan-European project

The consortium’s administrative hub is in Turku, located on the west coast of Finland. The Italian city of Turin handles medical imaging and biological imaging is managed from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany.

Euro-BioImaging’s open-access model is designed to serve pharma companies and other private-sector researchers, as well as the academic community. There is little precedent for this kind of open operating model.

According to project manager Pasi Kankaanpää a massive need foropen access to imaging facilities can be seen across the entire science community and imaging is among the topmost requested research infrastructure services.  “Live cell imaging is very popular among researchers,” he says. “We have all the instruments needed for investigating molecular assembly and construction, including machines that work with light-spectrometry techniques. One of the most common imaging use cases is to combine laser-based systems with electron-based systems.”

On the brink of discovery

Euro-BioImaging has its origins in a 2007 European Union project aimed at coordinating research in different fields. Finland’s management of its imaging infrastructure was seen as a benchmark for European-wide cooperation in imaging, leading to the decision to place the administrative centre in Turku.

The consortium builds on more than a decade of cooperation between dozens of imaging centres across Europe. Environmental scientists have employed the facilities to investigate ocean microbes, while cancer researchers have used them to make important discoveries in cancer biology. Several new centres will be established during 2020.

“With our facilities, researchers can explore cells, which are a universe in themselves,” Eriksson says. “Right now, cell and medical imaging are at a point comparable to the space age in the 1960s. We are on the brink of something here.”

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* Text by Andrew Flowers

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Euro-BioImaging is a research infrastructure that offers open access to imaging technologies, training and data services in biological and biomedical imaging. The infrastructure consists of imaging facilities, called nodes, that have opened their doors to all life science researchers. Finland’s annual membership contribution to Euro-BioImaging is paid by the Academy of Finland.

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