Euro-BioImaging Special Edition Newsletter

On 29th October, 2019, after more than 10 years of preparatory work with active engagement from 25 national imaging communities, the European Commission officially established Euro-BioImaging as a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC). This Special Edition Newsletter gives recognition to the community's effort in this process and revisits the importance of this remarkable achievement for European life science research.

IMAGE LIFE, DISCOVER THE FUTURE

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 unprecedented accuracy and coverage that have been otherwise out of reach. 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, tissues and organisms in real time. These technologies allow breakthrough biological discoveries and their translation into medical applications. Imaging technologies are thus the central technology platform driving research in most disciplines of the life sciences.

OPEN ACCESS, OPEN INNOVATION

With the advent of the “imaging revolution”, which lead to two Nobel prizes for super-resolution and cryo-electron microscopy, it was clear that the scientific community would increasingly ask for cutting-edge imaging technologies to constantly push the boundaries of discovery research. But even at the turn of this century it was apparent that the advances of imaging technologies could not be fully realised by the community in its current landscape. The bottleneck? Limited access to imaging technologies and the fragmented imaging data landscape. It became clear that the imaging community needed to become better organised, with widespread access to the latest technologies, as well as systems to integrate, share and analyse imaging data. These realisations went hand in hand with the need for greater national and European investments in life science research. And so, the concept of Euro-BioImaging was born: to allow imaging research to flow unhindered, thereby ensuring excellent research and development across the life sciences in Europe. To achieve this, a coordinated European research infrastructure was needed, offering all 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.
ACCESS EURO-BIOIMAGING SERVICES

COMMUNITY EFFORT

As far back as 2001, the imaging community rallied together when it became clear that the demand for imaging services greatly exceeded capacity, and better technologies – along with easy access to them – was needed. Across Europe numerous new national imaging networks formed, making the case at the political level for more investment in imaging research. The building of Euro-BioImaging also started, supported by two Horizon2020 Preparatory Phase Project awards and an international consortium of scientists, lawyers and science policy makers. By 2008, the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) included Euro-BioImaging – not yet a fully operational infrastructure – on its Roadmap and by 2018, it received Landmark status. This status is recognised as a benchmark for quality, recommending that Euro-BioImaging is the “go-to” Research Infrastructure to support imaging research across Europe.

On 29th October, 2019, after more than 10 years of preparatory work with active engagement from 25 national imaging communities, the European Commission officially established Euro-BioImaging as a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC). With its ERIC status, Euro-BioImaging is now legally recognised as the European research infrastructure for biological and biomedical imaging, promoting excellent research and development across the life sciences in Europe.

FULLY OPERATIONAL

Testament to the remarkable efforts of many, Euro-BioImaging ERIC launched with 15 founding members: Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, EMBL, Finland, France, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Norway, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, and the UK. Belgium participates as an observer. These members have provided their formal commitment and investment in imaging research for the benefit of European life science. On the 12th and 13th December, 2019, the first official Euro-BioImaging Board meeting took place. Representatives from the founding members met in Helsinki, Finland, to agree on Euro-BioImaging’s strategic and operational plans for the next 5 years. With this first Board meeting, Euro-BioImaging ERIC has become operational and its services are now accessible via a single-entry point, the Euro-BioImaging Web Portal: www.eurobioimaging.eu.
Hub staff along with the Board delegates from the 15 founding members of Euro-BioImaging ERIC.

LEADERSHIP

With the implementation of the ERIC status, Finland now hosts the Statutory Seat, the access gateway, and the overall coordination of Euro-BioImaging, while EMBL coordinates access to biological imaging, and Italy coordinates access to biomedical imaging. EMBL also hosts Euro-BioImaging ERIC general data services, including the BioImage Archive to store and share imaging data.

To support Euro-BioImaging’s quick start of operation, the Board – chaired by Professor Benny Geiger of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel – appointed the Interim Directorate: Professor John Erikson, University of Turku, as Interim Director General; Dr Antje Keppler, EMBL, as Interim Section Director of the Bio Hub; and, Professor Silvio Aime, University of Torino, as Interim Section Director of the Med Hub.
Left to right: John Eriksson, Antje Keppler, Silvio Aime.

STAMP OF EXCELLENCE

Euro-BioImaging offers a spectrum of biological and biomedical imaging technologies across its 21 Nodes in 9 European countries and the international organisation, EMBL. Users access these technologies at the Nodes, which are imaging facilities that have received an internationally approved quality stamp for their services. By accessing services at Euro-BioImaging Nodes, users are in the best position to achieve high-quality, reliable research data in a cost-effective manner. Users also receive expert help at every step of the way, ensuring that their imaging needs are met. This includes experimental advice and hands-on training at the imaging instrument of choice and is open to all scientists, regardless of affiliation, area of expertise, or field of activity.

LOOKING FORWARD

Open access to imaging technologies is the driver behind breakthrough research. By hosting Euro-BioImaging users, Nodes will encounter new knowledge, new challenges and push their systems to new frontiers. Continually expanding the technology portfolio of Euro-BioImaging is therefore central to its sustainability and scientific progress within Europe. In early 2020, a new “Call for Nodes” will be launched, inviting member countries to offer their imaging capabilities to a broader range of scientists. Showcasing of new technologies and subsequent proof-of-concept studies will also take place. All announcements will be made via the Euro-BioImaging Web Portal, newsletters and social media channels.

BEHIND THE SCENES

In the past months an enthusiastic team of tireless individuals has worked in Finland, Italy and at EMBL on preparing for the start of Euro-BioImaging ERIC as a new legal entity, as well as opening its service offers to the scientific communities. These people are: Giuseppe Digilio (support Med-Nodes); Solveig Eriksson (multimedia); Pasi Kankaanpää (manager at Seat, Euro-BioImaging Web Portal, EOSC-Life); Henok Karvonen (multimedia), Raili Kronström (user access Seat); Frauke Leitner (user access Bio-Hub, CORBEL WP4 manager, EOSC-Life WP3 lead); Dario Longo (EOSC-Life, CORBEL); Federica Paina (GBI manager, internationalization, science policy); Ilari Pulli (coordinator at Seat, support of Euro-BioImaging Board); Eeva Ryödi (legal advice); Umesh Satyal (Euro-BioImaging Web Portal); Kelly Sheehan-Rooney (communication and outreach, Industry Board coordinator); Athresh Shigaval (Euro-BioImaging Web Portal, IT solutions); Alessandra Viale (user access and support of Med-Hub tasks).