WORLD OF IMAGING – Euro-BioImaging visits Cape Town


March 1, 2023
GBI Governance

As Euro-BioImaging has specifically been established to enable open access to cutting-edge imaging technologies, we are obviously interested in how open access and open science are being developed globally. A small Euro-BioImaging team had the privilege and opportunity to see an excellent example of open access being established in Africa, when the Africa Microscopy Initiative (AMI) Imaging Centre opened its doors at the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IDM) hosted by the University of Cape Town (www.microscopy.africa). We were invited to witness the ribbon-cutting ceremony and also to document the stories surrounding the initiative.

The construction of the brand new Institution of Infectious Diseases and Molecular Medicine at the University of Cape Town has just been completed upon our arrival to a sunny and windy Cape Town in October of 2022. The Institution is located right across the road of Groote Schuur Hospital and on the campus of the University of Cape Town Faculty of Health Sciences.

Upon our arrival we meet up with Imaging Scientist, Caron Jacobs and Professor of Medical Microbiology, Digby Warner in the morning, just hours before the opening ceremony of both the AMI and the building. The institution is buzzing with excitement when the arrangements for the inauguration are going on, but everyone is incredibly welcoming and eager to tell the story of how this place came to be.

Director at the Advanced Imaging Center at HHMI Janelia, Teng-Leong Chew is the founding father of the idea behind AMI and we meet him in the basement of the imaging centre, as we are surrounded by shiny new instruments that represent the very latest developments in the field of microscopic imaging. All of this imaging equipment will be accessible to researchers all over Africa and will help South Africa in its battle against HIV, TB, HPV, and other infectious diseases. What we are looking at is the result of an idea formulated by Teng-Leong during the pandemic that grew into reality. In the lunch line we meet Valerie Mizrahi, Director of IDM, and we get a history lesson of South Africa and Cape Town. We get to understand a little better about the problems South Africans and their researchers have faced but also about the many opportunities that have come with an enormous amount of resilience.

The opening ceremony has a strong atmosphere of “we made it” and we notice that people all over the world have come to witness the success. The following day the celebrations continue with a symposium where we are delighted to notice that Euro-BioImaging is highlighted multiple times for being the benchmark for open access. National and international research is discussed, and presentations are given by the two main funding organizations, the Gates Foundation and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI).

We have a chance to discuss with representatives from both foundations (Stephani Otte and Vladimir Ghukasyan from CZI and Christopher Karp from Gates Foundation) how they personally and how their organizations became involved in the initiative and what opportunities they foresee in the future.

Overall, the South African imaging community has become highly influential in the African Imaging community, and we get the opportunity to hear more about this community from Imaging Scientist, Lize Engelbrecht and Professor of Molecular Physiology, Ben Loos from Stellenbosch University. Out of the many different topics discussed, we also touch upon how Euro-BioImaging could facilitate the further development of imaging in Africa and collaborate with its extraordinary community of researchers to meet the challenges that African countries are facing.

The excitement doesn’t end with the symposium though. Teng-Leong and his team from the Advanced Imaging Center at HHMI Janelia and team members from University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch University are about to start their weeklong workshop in microscopy and image analysis called Imaging Africa (www.imagingafrica.org) for 24 African research students. Before they immerse themselves completely into microscopy and image analysis, we get an opportunity to witness their icebreaker session in form of “speed dating” and get some insight of how the students can use the new microscopy knowledge for their own research and labs. The atmosphere is so loaded with excitement that we wish we could stay and witness the whole workshop from beginning to end.

We certainly look forward to learning about the successes of AMI and to explore future opportunities to collaborate with the AMI community of scientists, centers, and organizations, such as South Africa BioImaging (SABI, www.sabioimaging.org) and the recently formed African BioImaging Consortium (ABIC, www.africanbioimaging.org). These are directly involved in the organization of Global BioImaging’s Exchange of Experience meeting taking place on the 24th of October 2023 in Cape Town. All eyes will be on Cape Town for this event in which Global BioImaging, the global network of imaging facilities, will gather to discuss worldwide training opportunities in bioimaging.

Here's a good read and watch from the opening ceremony:

And more information about the Africa Microscopy Initiative here.

Solveig Eriksson, Multimedia Producer

John Eriksson, Director General

Institution of Infectious Diseases and Molecular Medicine at the University of Cape Town campus
Caron Jacobs at the Africa Microscopy Initiative opening ceremony
Valerie Mizrahi giving her speech at the AMI opening ceremony
John Eriksson and Digby Warner at the AMI opening ceremony
Teng-Leong Chew giving his speech at the AMI opening ceremony
Everyone mesmerised by the newly opened AMI Imaging Centre
The newly revealed Africa Microscopy Initiative Imaging Centre plaque
Jan Ellenberg highlighted Euro-BioImaging and open access at his presentation during the Africa Microscopy Initiative Symposium
A very successful symposium comes to an end
Imaging Africa workshop students getting to know each other through "speed dating"

Euro-BioImaging is very proud to present the newest imaging series “World of Imaging” and starring in the first season is Caron Jacobs & Digby Warner from of Infectious Diseases and Molecular Medicine at the University of Cape Town; Teng-Leong Chew from the Advanced Imaging Centre at HHMI Janelia featuring Imaging Africa workshop students; Stephani Otte and Vladimir Ghukasyan from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative; Christopher Karp from the Gates Foundation; and Lize Engelbrecht and Ben Loos from Stellenbosch University.

Watch our video series:


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