Euro-BioImaging – the pan-European Open Access Research Infrastructure Project for Biological and Medical Imaging Technologies

November 13, 2013

Euro‐BioImaging is a large‐scale pan‐European research infrastructure project on the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) Roadmap. Its mission is to build a distributed imaging infrastructure across Europe that will provide open access to innovative biological, molecular and medical imaging technologies for European researchers.

Project infrastructure

The infrastructure will consist of a set of geographically distributed but strongly interlinked imaging facilities (Euro-BioImaging Nodes), which will provide open access and support for European researchers to innovative and advanced imaging technologies. Euro-BioImaging is widely supported by the European scientific community, as well as by many bio-optical manufacturers and companies that are assembled in the Euro-BioImaging Industry Board. The Industry Board brings together, for the first time, more than 50 leading companies in the field of imaging technologies to strengthen Europe’s competitiveness in developing and producing cutting-edge imaging technologies.

In 2013, Euro-BioImaging conducted a 1st open call for Nodes to which 221 academic institutions from 19 European countries replied by submitting 71 Expressions of Interest for establishment of Nodes, accompanied by their detailed plans for infrastructure upgrade and future service for Euro-BioImaging users. Their Expressions of Interest are supported in writing by 2,200 European life scientists. The Board of independent international experts reviewed and highly recommended 25 and recommended 20 facilities to become Euro-BioImaging Nodes. Now, national funders will decide on funding Node construction in each country and from the pool of Nodes funded at the national level, the future Euro-BioImaging Member States will decide which Nodes to include in the Euro-BioImaging infrastructure.

In 2012, Euro-BioImaging performed a successful test-run of the future infrastructure, proving that open access to the latest imaging technologies could lead to new discoveries in more than 110 European research projects.

Euro-BioImaging has also driven the establishment of national imaging communities in 23 European countries and has established international partnerships with the Australian and Indian national imaging infrastructure organizations, globally promoting the concept of open access to imaging technology.  

It is envisioned that the preparatory phase of the project (2010–2013) is followed by a construction phase (2013-2017) and finally reach the operation phase (2015 onwards). Euro-BioImaging will be a newly established international organization, which is governed by its Member States and participating international organisations. A smooth transition to implementation is now discussed among national representatives from 21 countries, who are mandated by their ministries and/or national funding bodies, as well as EMBL.

Targets and target groups

Cutting-edge and innovative imaging technologies are revolutionizing the life sciences. Recent developments enable scientists to visualize and thereby better understand the processes that govern life and disease in cells and organisms. However, European life scientists often lack access to innovative imaging technologies and this can slow down scientific discoveries. Euro-BioImaging aims to fill this gap by creating a network of geographically distributed but strongly interlinked imaging facilities. Euro-BioImaging Nodes will provide open access to advanced imaging technology for all European life scientists, which count over 500.000 at the moment. Currently, 2,500 stakeholders actively follow developments in Euro-BioImaging.

"Euro-BioImaging will support research, training and innovation in biological and biomedical imaging on a pan-European level, by providing imaging services with an overarching strategic plan," says Jan Ellenberg from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), Euro-BioImaging Scientific Coordinator for biological imaging. By providing access to and training in imaging technologies, and by sharing of best practice and image data, Euro‐BioImaging will become an engine that will drive European innovation in imaging research and technologies.

Euro-BioImaging and Leica Microsystems

Leica Microsystems considers the project Euro-BioImaging, of very high importance for biological and medical imaging research. Leica Microsystems is an active member of the Euro-BioImaging Industry Board and has expressed already its strong support with previous letter of intent. "We think this initiative will be key for Europe to address the grand societal challenges such as an ageing population, viral pandemics and competitive industry", says Christoph Thumser, Sales Director Europe Life Science Research at Leica Microsystems. "In addition it will be key to promote innovation in imaging technology and strengthen the future bio/technological basis of the European economy. Euro-BioImaging will promote the world-leading scientific and industrial position of Europe in this field, and strengthen the business climate in this area. We believe that Euro-BioImaging and Leica Microsystems will mutually benefit from a close collaboration and will further strengthen the good partnerships we have with leading imaging facilities in Europe."

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