Towards a harmonized imaging services ontology

Published: 2022-02-11

Imaging technology is one of the fastest developing areas in scientific instrumentation. Staying on the cutting-edge in this dynamic field means that Euro-BioImaging is constantly working with our Nodes to expand our open access technology portfolio. But an increasing number of available technologies  - 9 new technologies were added to our portfolio between 2020-2021 alone -, shifting terminologies and fast paced developments in the electron microscopy field have led Euro-BioImaging to undertake a large-scale service-oriented restructuring project of the presentation of its technology portfolio. 

Capitalizing on the input of Node experts

To achieve a user-oriented and flexible presentation of our portfolio, following a first discussion at the Euro-BioImaging All-Hands Nodes Meeting in March 2021, we formed three expert groups – for light microscopy, electron microscopy, and biomedical imaging technologies. These expert groups represent the broad spectrum of expertise available at the 148 imaging facilities and centers making up the Euro-BioImaging Nodes. In total, 67 facility staff from our Nodes joined the different expert groups and through regular meetings and in-depth discussions throughout 2021 developed a new categorization and presentation for all technologies on offer at the Euro-BioImaging Nodes. 

The new technology framework allows the user a step-by-step selection of the different technologies in the application process. It also highlights the broad and cutting-edge service offer of the Euro-BioImaging Nodes across all imaging domains in a way that is appealing and easy to grasp even for the non-expert user. 

Collaborating with the RMS Dictionary of Light Microscopy

To ensure the new technology framework is aligned with imaging technology terminology, Euro-BioImaging collaborated with Dr Joelle Goulding, University of Nottingham, who leads the RMS Dictionary of Light Microscopy project . This allowed us to find harmonized spelling and terminology for the terms included in both the Euro-BioImaging technology framework and the Light Microscopy Dictionary. 

Next steps

We strongly encourage the international imaging community to check out this harmonized framework for categorizing imaging technologies, having user-friendliness, international collaboration and also FAIR data publication in mind. International adoption of this framework by other communities would be great and it could smooth the way towards an internationally unified imaging ontology in the future. 

This new technology framework is currently undergoing practical implementation tests and usability and design evaluations in the Euro-BioImaging Web Portal team, and will thereafter be implemented on the portal in a manner that serves the imaging community as well as possible.

Below you can download the new Euro-BioImaging technology framework.


The new technology framework represents the hard work of a large number of experts from the Euro-BioImaging Nodes who volunteered their time and expertise in this development. We thank them all for their contributions. Special thanks go to the chairs and task leads of the different Expert Groups:

Expert Group Light Microscopy:

Expert Group Electron Microscopy:

Expert Group Biomedical Imaging Technologies:

Euro-BioImaging Technology Framework 2022

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