Integrating European life sciences in the area of imaging

The European Commission has officially established Euro-BioImaging - which provides life scientists with open access to a broad range of technologies and resources in biological and biomedical imaging - as a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC1). Since Euro-BioImaging was initiated at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in 2007, this adds yet another remarkable achievement to EMBL's mission of integrating European life sciences.

Imaging technologies have a central role in driving fundamental research and applied innovations in both biological and biomedical research. These technologies help a very broad user and research community to make breakthrough biological discoveries and to proceed with translation into innovations in the fields of medicine, diagnostics, drug development, biotechnology, and molecular ecology.

With its ERIC status, Euro-BioImaging is now legally recognized as a European research infrastructure2 for biological and biomedical imaging. Euro-BioImaging offers life scientists open access to imaging instruments, expertise, training opportunities, and data management services that they do not find at their home institutions or among their collaboration partners. All scientists, regardless of affiliation, area of expertise, or field of activity, can benefit from these pan-European open access services. Euro-BioImaging will ensure excellent research and development across the life sciences in Europe. All Euro-BioImaging services are accessible via http://www.eurobioimaging.eu. Establishment of the Euro-BioImaging ERIC builds on over 10 years of preparatory work with active engagement of 25 national imaging communities, funded by the European Commission and coordinated by the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL).

Finland will host the Statutory Seat, the access gateway, and manage the overall coordination of Euro-BioImaging, while EMBL will coordinate access to biological imaging, and Italy will coordinate access to biomedical imaging. EMBL will also coordinate Euro-BioImaging's data services via the BioImage Archive to store and share imaging data.

Jan Ellenberg, Head of the Cell Biology and Biophysics Unit at EMBL, who coordinated the development of Euro-BioImaging from its initial concept in 2007, comments:

It has been a remarkable year for EMBL in its mission to integrate European life science in the area of imaging. Euro-BioImaging along with EMBL's new Imaging Centre and the launch of the BioImage Archive will greatly strengthen imaging research across Europe."

Euro-BioImaging offers state-of-the-art imaging services through its internationally renowned facilities, called Nodes. These Nodes are distributed across Euro-BioImaging's 15 founding members: Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, EMBL, Finland, France, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Norway, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, and the UK. Belgium will participate as an observer.

Antje Keppler, Head of Imaging Infrastructure Strategy Development at EMBL, led much of the building and maintaining of relationships within the imaging community. She comments: "We have worked with national imaging communities across Europe to establish the best model for Euro-BioImaging's open access procedures. Euro-BioImaging is a great example of how EMBL's diverse and collaborative culture can be shared with our member states for the benefit of science."

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