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European centers open doors for bio-imaging studies

03 Oct 2011

More than 50 leading centers specializing in medical and biological imaging are offering free access for proof-of-concept studies.

Many of Europe’s leading medical and biological imaging centers are making their advanced technologies available for free in 2012, to aid the development of new techniques through proof-of-concept studies.

As part of the pan-European “Euro-Bioimaging” project, more than 50 facilities across 16 countries are offering access to technologies including phase-contrast imaging, high-throughput, high-definition microscopy, mesoscopic imaging and correlative light-electron microscopy.

The Euro-Bioimaging consortium has just issued an open call for users to take part in the proof-of-concept projects. The deadline for proposals is November 15, and the scheme is open to any applicant, from PhD students up to senior researchers, at any university or public research center in Europe.

Proposals will then be evaluated by a panel of reviewers composed of consortium experts, who will select suitable projects. After that, the responsible heads of the participating imaging facilities will decide which projects to run at which sites. The proof-of-concept studies are then scheduled to run between January and June 2012.

Among the many centers taking part are the Life Imaging Center (LIC) at the Albert-Ludwigs-University in Freiburg, Germany, and the Blackett Laboratory at the UK’s Imperial College, London.

According to the Euro-Bioimaging consortium, the proof-of-concept studies will identify potential bottlenecks in providing access to both basic and advanced imaging technologies, and be used to test future access policies for the different technologies.

Funding question
The Euro-Bioimaging project is currently in its initial “preparatory” phase, which runs until 2013. A “construction” phase that should see either new facilities built, or major upgrades to existing facilities, is scheduled for 2014 through 2017, and that is set to be followed by an “operation” phase from 2017 onwards.

The aim of the project is to deploy a distributed biomedical and biological imaging infrastructure throughout Europe in a co-ordinated manner. “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,” states the consortium on its web site.

In a recent strategy paper, the consortium added: “The mission of Euro-BioImaging is to provide a clear path of access to a complete range of essential imaging technologies for every biologist and biomedical scientist in Europe.”

But in that same paper, the consortium also warned of funding challenges that lie ahead, partly because of the reliance on funding through individual countries – something that could be especially difficult in the current economic climate: “[The] sustainability of Euro-BioImaging will be endangered, if no appropriate central funding instruments on European level are in place in addition to those committed by member states,” it wrote.

As a result, the consortium is calling upon the European Commission to provide a new co-ordinated funding approach to Euro-Bioimaging under the forthcoming Common Strategic Framework (CSF), now known as the “Horizon 2020” research, development and innovation program.

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