2 top biological imaging centers offer powerful free online tool to researchers and public
The collaboration of two leading cell image resource centers now provides a more extensive and advanced facility for archiving, sharing, and analyzing microscope images in great detail. The American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) and the National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research (NCMIR) at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), have joined forces to provide a unified interface. This union extends ASCB's The Cell: An Image Library website with new capabilities and an extensible software infrastructure.
The combined resource will now be maintained by the NCMIR through its Cell Centered Database. It will allow users to share and interactively explore extremely large image files of molecular and cellular biology currently being created by advanced microscopy and other emerging methodologies. In addition to promoting collaboration between researchers, The Cell: An Image Library opens the dazzling microscopic world of multidimensional and high resolution imagery to students and others interested in exploring life on the cellular scale. It is available now at www.cellimagelibrary.org.
A useful new feature of this recently enhanced website is NCMIR's Web Image Browser (WIB) tool. The tool gives researchers and students unprecedented access to ultra-high resolution images with simple tools for collaborative data mark-up and annotation. A new online image uploader is also offered to simplify uploading new images, and associated metadata, without size limitation.
By registering for a free account, users can save images for future reference, define areas of interest, and create a customized home page to organize, share, and track new images related to these areas of interest.
With this collaboration, ASCB and NCMIR offer an extensible and general biomedical toolbox for scientists to store, share, and analyze their data with many related options. "All researchers will be well served by having one resource where they can both archive and find useful illustrative images. Moreover, I believe the public will be well served by an easy-to-search, open-access repository of cells," said Sandra Schmid, president of the ASCB. Planned enhancements will allow users to connect directly with other researchers and create a private collaboration space in The Cell: An Image Library. Key to the entire effort will be linkages with other databases of images and cell biology data so that The Cell becomes the hub of a federated research network. This will bring access to many resources through a single portal. The resource will utilize technology developed by UCSD and collaborators for the Neuroscience Information Framework (NIF) project. NIF provides technology for linking together databases across scales and techniques within a common semantic framework.