IMAGINE project – imaging technology developments to address socio-economic challenges

June 15, 2023

Euro-BioImaging is pleased to be part of the IMAGINE project, which kicked off this week at the EMBL Imaging Centre in Heidelberg, Germany. The mission of the IMAGINE consortium is to develop the technologies needed to bridge the molecular scale of structure with the organismal scale of function and to bring those technologies not only to highly specialised central facilities and standard laboratory models, but make them applicable to a wide range of samples and through the Research Infrastructures make them available to all researchers.

To achieve this ambitious goal, the IMAGINE consortium brings together under the leadership of EMBL, several leading European technology developing institutions, with leading industrial companies and the pan-European Research Infrastructures (RIs) in structural biology, bioimaging and marine biology. Euro-BioImaging is proud to be one of the involved research infrastructures, along with Instruct-ERIC, and the European Marine Biological Resource Centre (EMBRC).

IMAGINE’s industrial partners are Arinax, Leica Microsystems, and Tescan. In addition, EMBL’s own tech transfer arm, EMBLEM, is part of the endeavour as well.

Cross-scale imaging instrumentation

At the core of the IMAGINE project is the development of innovative cross-scale imaging instrumentation, tools, and methods, which will advance the state-of-art of the participating pan-European RIs and show their transformative operational potential for the Life Sciences to address major socio-economic challenges of human and planetary health.

In six work packages (WPs) IMAGINE will develop instrumentation, tools and methods related to X-ray imaging (WP1), cryo-EM (WP2), super-resolution microscopy (WP3) and intravital imaging (WP4), image-based sample screening and preservation in the field (WP5). A specific focus lies on the correlation and integrated use of all of the technologies and the development of tools allowing sample transfer between the technologies. IMAGINE aims at making those imaging technologies sufficiently robust for service provision and allow their integration into cross-scale experiments both in terms of the specimen handling and the AI-powered data analysis and integration (WP6).

Jan Ellenberg opens the IMAGINE kick-off meeting

Euro-BioImaging’s role within the project

All the technologies targeted for development within IMAGINE, specifically with their application to the imaging of biological samples, are part of the Euro-BioImaging technology framework. Accordingly, Euro-BioImaging will play a central role in providing input to the developments, support the validation of the technologies, and through our Nodes make the developed tools accessible.

From the start, Euro-BioImaging will facilitate a consultation process on the technology development with imaging experts from our Nodes, bringing in their technical expertise and representing the broad user community of the Euro-BioImaging facilities. This will ensure compatibility of the innovations with a service environment and their utility for a wide range of user projects. Under the lead of Euro-BioImaging, the consortium will build a comprehensive training curriculum for Nodes and future users of new imaging technologies (WP10). Selected Nodes will participate in the validation (WP7, WP11), with their own user projects, of new tools and technologies as they emerge within IMAGINE. A special focus will be on correlative, cross-RI projects. Through this participation in the development new image acquisition and analysis workflows will become available to researchers through Euro-BioImaging during and after the IMAGINE project.

In WP12, EMBLEM and Euro-BioImaging are jointly developing guidelines on how to set up and accelerate technology development together with industry in a multi-stakeholder environment such as that of the IMAGINE project. These guidelines will support the establishment of new relations between industry and Euro-BioImaging facilities.

Thus research infrastructures such as Euro-BioImaging can become an accelerator for innovation, providing the opportunity for technology validation for a wider range of scientific questions or models, and facilitating dissemination and uptake of new technology in the community.

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