Danish BioImaging (DBI) is a multi-sited, multimodal Euro-BioImaging Node that brings together five state-of-the-art facilities representing the bioimaging infrastructure of Denmark. The Node provides a broad service offer covering a wide range of advanced bioimaging technologies - from pre-clinical imaging of big animals and humans to cryo-electron microscopy for single particle analysis. Its fields of expertise cover plant biology, HCS of yeast libraries, zoology, pathology, neurosciences and metabolism. In addition, data storage, management and image analysis are a high priority at the DBI Node. Danish BioImaging became a Euro-BioImaging Node in June 2021. Only six months later, the Node was awarded an important grant from the Danish Ministry of Higher Education & Science. We spoke to Clara Prats, coordinator of the EuBI DBI Node and Lead Partner of the DBI national infrastructure grant, to learn how these funds will support the Node’s development.
Danish BioImaging has been in the Danish Roadmap for Research Infrastructures since 2015. Since then, the community and the network of bioimaging platforms have grown and consolidated as a strong and broad consortium. In 2021, the Ministry of Higher Education and Science allocated 10 M Euros extra to the initially budgeted 7.9 M for research infrastructures, from which Danish BioImaging was awarded 6.67 M Euros to support the fledgling infrastructure.
Investing in technology & image analysis infrastructure
“This grant provides the funds we need to upgrade our technology portfolio and bolster our service offer,” says Clara Prats. The biggest part of the grant will support upgrades of existing and implementation of new bioimaging technologies; from a Micro-CT system for imaging of whole animals, PET, SPECT and CT scanners, to light sheet, HCS, FLIM, and Electron Microscopy. The grant also provides funding for an infrastructure Coordinator, someone who will professionalize and coordinate the services, support Euro-BioImaging users, and make sure that everything runs smoothly across the network of facilities. ”The most exciting part is that it will help us develop services in the field of image analysis”, says Clara. “Our plan is to create a nation-wide image analysis core facility for biological & biomedical research. This unique facility will link the bioimaging facilities across Denmark and bind image-based computer and life sciences. With this grant, we will be able hire two new people, one developer and one image analyst. Both will work, with the computer scientists at the University of Copenhagen and Danish Technical University, to integrate the latest image analysis tools into easily available workflows of interest for life scientists and, identify bioimaging projects that require computer scientists to develop innovative image analysis tools. These services & expertise will be available via Euro-BioImaging.”
Clara, an active member of NEUBIAS (Network of European BioImage Analysts), preaches for the development of image analysis services in close collaboration with core facility staff in order to avoid losing or under exploiting imaging data. Image-based data sets are becoming so rich and complex that image analysis expertise are essential. Clara continues. “Our full portfolio of image analysis services will be available via Euro-BioImaging in the Proof-of-Concept studies that will be launch in February/March 2022.”
Working together pays off
“Technology platforms are highly expensive and expertise-demanding. This is why a national-wide and European-wide coordination to avoid unnecessary overlaps and share expertise is essential,” says Clara. “Being part of Euro-BioImaging has given our national imaging community impetus to come together towards a common sustainability plan,” she continues. “The benefits of working together are enormous. This grant that comes so quickly after being accepted as a Euro-BioImaging Node really proves that working together as a national community pays off. We believe this is only the start; our vision is to invest even more resources to prove that national technology infrastructures are essential for sciences and, they need a long-term sustainability plan. Sustainability, which will only be achieved with the involvement of all stakeholders; research institutions, Ministry and other relevant funding bodies. Nevertheless, being a node of the ERIC Euro-BioImaging and being awarded national infrastructure status are two big steps in the right direction.”
Clara Prats-Gavalda (front and center, with a yellow lanyard) and the Danish BioImaging team at their Kick-Off meeting on February 1, 2022.