NorMIC wins two important grants

April 5, 2022
NorMIC-Oslo Node Technologies

The Norwegian Advanced Light Microscopy Node (NorMIC) is pleased to announce that it has been awarded two important grants to develop its infrastructure. NorMIC is part of a larger national infrastructure, NALMIN, that has received a prestigious grant from the Norwegian Research Council to purchase new microscopes and hire staff to run the new equipment. In addition, the Node and other local imaging facilities have been awarded funding from the University of Oslo to support IT infrastructure development. Oddmund Bakke, Head of the NorMIC Oslo facility, and Xian Hu (Edna), Data Management officer of NALMIN, tell us more.

New technologies

“Persistence is key,” says Oddmund Bakke. “It’s hard to get grants for basic research and basic science. But by working together as a national infrastructure, and being persistent, we managed it.” In a grant that was submitted in 2020, the NALMIN group of imaging core facilities, headed by Harald Stenmark, competed with other infrastructures on the Norwegian national roadmap – successfully receiving around NOK 71.5 million(or 7.1 M Euros) to be shared among the facilities.

This is a significant boost for the two Oslo facilities that are part of our Node, who will upgrade their technology offer and also be able to hire core facility staff to help run new machines over the next 3 years, before the positions become permanent. Currently, their offer includes a range of advanced light microscopes including rescan confocal laser scanning instruments, iSIM spinning disc confocal, TIRF, STED, light sheet microscope, immuno-EM techniques, etc. “With this grant money, we will be able to purchase a second spinning disk confocal system – which is badly needed since our current machine is booked 24/7,” says Oddmund. “We are also considering purchasing Min Flux instruments and other new technologies. We are very grateful to have this opportunity to upgrade our systems. We will order our new instruments later this year and they will be available in open access to Euro-BioImaging users shortly after we receive them.”

IT infrastructure development

“Persistence is important, but so is being innovative,” says Xian Hu (Edna), Project coordinator of this new E-Infrastructure grant.“Our Node, along with several other imaging facilities, has also been awarded 3.8 million Norwegian kroners (380,000 Euros) from UiO IT department to build a FAIR data storage and image analysis IT infrastructure. In addition, this grant allows us to invest in more powerful image processing workstations for users of our facilities also develop a central server to support people who want to process their image data remotely. We will also develop an image analysis offer in the cloud. Thanks to this grant, we can be more innovative with our service offer, and develop an image analysis service that is unique in Europe.”

Image analysis service

“Such an important IT infrastructure investment opens many doors. In terms of new services for Euro-BioImaging users, we will be able to make our licensed image analysis software available to European researchers no matter where they are located. Many of these software are quite expensive, so small laboratories would really appreciate this offer. In addition, we will be able to develop our online course offer thanks to these funds. We demonstrated in May 2021 that with a central server, we could provide a practical course in image analysis to over 70 students – including 30 located outside of Norway. In the future we will take this course offer even further, collaborating with other research institutes and reaching out to the best teachers, who will be able to teach the course without travel.”

Going further

And the best part is that this is just the beginning. “There is a true momentum surrounding the national imaging community in Norway, with plans for a new biological and biomedical imaging center to open in Oslo, in a new Life Science building to be ready in 3- 4 years,” says Oddmund. “Working together, providing our services internationally via Euro-BioImaging, being persistent and innovative… all of this means we are in a very positive dynamic right now,” concludes Oddmund.

NorMIC provided a virtual practical course in image analysis to over 70 students at 2021 – including 30 located outside of Norway - with a central server.  Photos (courtesy of NORMIC) of the 2019 NorMIC workshop (Physical workshop).

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