BioImagingUK Community Network

Lead Research Organisation: King's College London
Department Name: Randall Div of Cell and Molecular Biophy

Abstract

Since it's first use nearly 400 years ago, microscopy has grown to be one of the most powerful and commonly used research tools by life scientists across the world. Using microscopes to image biological samples can provide a wealth of information ranging from understanding how tissues are organised during development and how this changes in diseases, to studying single proteins or DNA behave inside living cells. The types of microscopes that researchers use in the lab are often very advanced and complex in nature, and can require teams of experts to build and maintain them as well as to teach other scientists how to use them for their experiments. Moreover, analysing the data that research teams produce from these sorts of microscopes can be complicated. Nearly all Universities and research Institutes across the UK have microscopes in use within their research labs, but we currently lack good ways for these scientists from very different fields to share their imaging equipment, expertise and ideas. This sort of interaction is very important for knowledge exchange, training researchers and developing new ideas that will ultimately improve our research and mean the UK is at the forefront of this exciting technological area.

The purpose of this proposal is to support up a UK-wide network called BioImagingUK, which will provide a way for imaging scientists to interact, discuss newly emerging ideas and decide on key priorities that we need to work on to improve the quality of our research. A big focus of BioImagingUK will also be in supporting the technical and more junior imaging scientists and put in place important measures to help their career development and visibility across the UK research community. This is not only important for their careers, but also really helps the UK to retain exceptional talent to ensure we remain at the forefront of this internationally competitive scientific area. BioImagingUK will also help academic researchers to interact more closely with teams from associated Industries (such as companies who manufacture microscopes) to help build better relationships between the two sectors and identify new ways to develop novel technology together. Finally, this community network will also provide an important platform for bio-imaging scientists from across the UK to communicate their research to the public.

Technical Summary

Biological imaging is increasingly recognised as complex, intensive, and important for the achievement of national goals. The organisation and co-operation of the Bio-imaging community in other countries has been driven by, and continues to drive, a change in the landscape of infrastructure for biological imaging. The UK has also driven greater co-ordination of our research efforts through BioImagingUK, supported by our first network grant (Dec'14-Dec'17). BioimagingUK has thus far shown the potential power of co-ordinating and supporting the community and driving forward new ideas and initiatives that are important for this community and its success. To continue to ensure the success of BioImaging in the UK, we need to develop and support a more active network that builds on our success, and enables continued co-ordination of bioimaging over the next few years. The development of a national network to support Imaging Scientists is critical for the UK to remain at the forefront of biomedical research.

The purpose of this proposal is to renew support for the BioImaging UK network, not only to maintain our current efforts, but also to continue to drive our collaborative efforts in BioImaging across the UK to ensure the continued progress and achievement of biological and technical excellence in the UK. Through community meetings, workshops, surveys and the development of associated reports on these activities our goals are to 1) Develop a strategy for UK biological and biomedical imaging technology; 2) Develop meaningful career structures and evaluation criteria for BioImaging Research Technical Professionals (RTPs; Imaging Scientists). 3) Use BioImaging UK to develop and support training across practical aspects of imaging and image analysis and 4) Provide the community with up-to-date resources, organise and run community meetings and engage with global BioImaging activities for reporting back to UK community and stakeholders.

Planned Impact

BioImagingUK will provide a platform for scientists engaged in Bioimaging across the spectrum (from PhD students to research staff and Imaging Specialists) to access the relevant help, training and support. The Network will also provide a co-ordinated voice for the research and industry sectors to communicate knowledge and strategic ideas to the wider funding community. We will use this community-wide voice to raise the profile of early career researchers and provide them with opportunities to develop their personal networks and skills. Our plans for detailed reporting on better Career structure for Imaging Scientists in universities and research institutes will ensure continued support and career development for these essential, highly trained professionals.

A key goal of BioImagingUK is also to identify new strategic priorities, helping to drive investment in, and development of, imaging in the UK. Our provision of a single point of contact and information for the BioImaging community will enable this co-ordination of community ideas and enable better communication and input into UK-wide strategy for bioimaging in future. The 3 year proposal is built around specific timelines of engagement with different members of the BioImaging community with a view to regular reporting to stakeholders and constant feedback to the community via the website, Wiki and social media feeds. Such a co-ordinated activity is highly likely to drive our research efforts forward faster than through individual efforts, and more likely to lead to new ideas, sharing of best practice, new technologies and broader global recognition for the UK community in this important scientific area. BioImagingUK will be entirely distinct from, but highly complementary to, existing UK networks such as the TTLs, NIBBs and Physics of Life, which are focused on discipline-specific goals but encompass some aspects of Bioimaging. We will co-ordinate and engage with these existing networks to capture their involvement and needs in Bioimaging and ensure we are supporting emerging ideas from those networks as well as early career researchers starting out in Bioimaging fields. We anticipate significant synergy between existing networks and BioImagingUK that will ensure cross-fertilisation of ideas and consolidation of emerging needs within the Bioimaging community spanning a broad range of fields.

BioImagingUK also aims to actively engage with Industry throughout the course of the current proposal and beyond. These interactions will ensure we develop a complete picture of emerging bioimaging requirements within pharmaceutical and technology sectors and feed disseminate this to academic networks with a view to encouraging new collaborations and joint funding applications. We will also work with industry to determine their perception of the current skills gaps in Imaging-related areas and feed this into ongoing development of training workshops to enable academics to develop relevant skills for transitioning into industry. We will also seek to develop opportunities for researcher exchange and secondment between industry and academia to enable a better understanding of the challenges faced in each within the BioImaging domains and provide more direct mechanisms to interact and develop new mutually beneficial ways of working.

Publications

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Description Establishment of a cohesive working community leading change across bioimaging fields within the UK. Our key findings are linked to our community-wide meetings and surveys that inform on next steps and progress across the UK bioimaging field.
Exploitation Route All of the outcomes from our community meetings and working groups are publicly available and these will be used to inform on future plans for training, industry engagement, career progression and strategic funding.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Chemicals,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

URL https://www.rms.org.uk/network-collaborate/bioimaginguk-network.html
 
Description BioImagingUK Focused Interest Group Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Based on the results of a community survey conducted over the summer, the meeting identified key target areas and working groups were assigned. These were as follows:
UK Facility Structure/Funding, Defining community strategy development, Software development/archiving, Defining job roles and recognition and Euro-bioimaging UK nodes. The groups are now actively working to achieve their aims. This will have beneficial impact in the Bioimaging UK community.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description BioImagingUK Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This meeting provided an opportunity for the UK Bioimaging community to discuss priorities and strategies in training, development, careers and ways to share knowledge across different disciplines. The session consisted of short talks from members of the BioImagingUK organising committee, BBSRC, and industrial/institute collaboration partners (Royce, RFI, Faraday) to update on progress, new opportunities and initiatives. There was an interactive Q+A sessions to encourage discussion and enabled emerging priorities and ideas to be highlighted. The meeting was open to everyone with an interest in bioimaging. Approximately 100-150 people attended.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.rms.org.uk/network-collaborate/bioimaginguk-network/community-documents.html
 
Description Presentation at the EM-UK meeting in Plymouth 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Our project officer, Georgina Fletcher gave a 10min presentation about the BioImagingUK network to the UK EM community. The purpose was to update the group about our current and future plans and to increase engagement. There was a significant increase in mailing list subscribers and twitter followers afterwards which we tentatively ascribe to the talk.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.rms.org.uk/discover-engage/event-calendar/em-uk-2020.html
 
Description Presentation at the LMFMUK meeting in Birmingham 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Our project officer, Georgina Fletcher gave a 10min presentation about the BioImagingUK network to the UK Light Microscopy Facilities Manager community. The purpose was to update the group about our current and future plans and to increase engagement. There was a significant increase in mailing list subscribers and twitter followers afterwards which we tentatively ascribe to the talk. Specific requests came in to use some of our material as well.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.rms.org.uk/discover-engage/event-calendar/uk-light-microscopy-facility-meeting-2020.html