Euro-BioImaging established as a European Research Infrastructure Consortium for state-of-the-art imaging services in biological and biomedical research

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 recognised 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 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.” 

Background: the rationale for Euro-BioImaging

Innovative imaging technologies have revolutionised the life sciences by allowing researchers to visualise and measure a broad spectrum of molecular and cellular processes and events with an accuracy and coverage that have been out of reach until now. For the first time in history, we can visualise the molecular processes of life and the basis of human disease, such as tumorigenesis or Alzheimer’s disease, in living cells and tissues in real time. These technologies allow breakthrough biological discoveries and their translation into medical applications. Imaging technologies are thus the central technology platform driving fundamental research in most disciplines of the life sciences, in both biological and biomedical research. By facilitating user access to high-quality imaging facilities, resources, and services, Euro-BioImaging will boost the productivity and impact of research across Europe. In recognition of this, Euro-BioImaging received Landmark status on the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) Roadmap in 2018.

1: What is an ERIC?

A European Research Infrastructure Consortium, or ERIC, is a specific legal form to facilitate the establishment and operation of research infrastructures of European interest. ERIC status endows research infrastructures with a legal personality recognised in all EU Member States.

2: What are research infrastructures?

Research infrastructures are facilities, resources, and related services used by the scientific community to conduct research and foster innovation. They include major scientific equipment, resources such as collections, archives or scientific data, e-infrastructures such as data and computing systems, and communication networks. Their development has been coordinated through the European Strategic Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) since 2002. ESFRI is a strategic instrument to develop the scientific integration of Europe and to strengthen its international outreach.

About EMBL

EMBL is Europe’s leading laboratory for the life sciences. We are an intergovernmental organisation established in 1974 and are supported by over 20 member states. EMBL performs fundamental research in molecular biology, studying the story of life. We offer services to the scientific community, train the next generation of scientists, and strive to integrate the life sciences across Europe. We are international, innovative, and interdisciplinary. We are more than 1700 people, from over 80 countries, operating across six sites in Barcelona (Spain), Grenoble (France), Hamburg (Germany), Heidelberg (Germany), Hinxton (UK), and Rome (Italy). Our scientists work in independent groups and conduct research and offer services in all areas of molecular biology.
Our research drives the development of new technology and methods in the life sciences. We work to transfer this knowledge for the benefit of society.

More information
Kelly Sheehan-Rooney, Euro-BioImaging External Communication Officer

This post was originally published on EMBL news.

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