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The Cell Observatory just got upgraded, and here is why

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 (ERIC). The Cell Observatory in Leiden is part of this consortium. ‘This is very good news.’

Key technology

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 reach 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 infrastructure (see box) for biological and biomedical imaging. ‘This is very good news for the microscopy community in the Netherlands, but also for our high-throughput imaging screening facility located at the Cell Observatory in particular,’ says LACDR’s professor Bob van de Water. ‘After a process of almost 10 years, we are proud of this official European status.’

Working together

According to assistant professor Sylvia Le Dévédec, the Cell Observatory is now recognised at a European level for the quality and professionalism of the facility and its expertise in the field of high-content imaging. ‘This way, our facility can share knowledge on hardware, software and data management with the top ends imaging facilities in Europe,’ she says. ‘Now, we can learn from each other.’

The ERIC structure will help the facility managers network to professionalise with respect to FAIRification process of imaging data in a standard way, which is beneficial for the research community. ‘The benefit for the user is that he can expect high-quality service when applying to one of those European imaging nodes,’ says Le Dévédec. ‘This certification might help future researchers to more easily receive a grant that makes use of biomedical-imaging within the Euro-BioImaging consortium.’

What is Euro-BioImaging?

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. 

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 (project leader), France, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Norway, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, and the UK. Belgium will participate as an observer.

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. 

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.

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