Imaging Facilities

The rationale for Bio-imaging facilities

The increasing complexity and expense of the modern light microscope means that they are generally kept and maintained within specialist imaging facilities. This page gives you other websites that I have found useful whilst managing a bioimaging facility. The links are not in priority order, but have been added when I’ve come across them. The RMS/BioImagingUK database is here.

These advanced light microscope systems, found in core facilities worldwide, have made it possible to study dynamic processes in living cells, rather than trying to assess structure and function from a series of snapshots of dead or isolated cells. All living systems have an inherent time course, and microscopes make it possible to collect images and data not only in three spatial dimensions (x,y,z), but in time (t) and also spectrally (lambda) with changes in wavelength. As such, the cell itself becomes the ‘test-tube’, and although challenges to image fidelity and maintaining the cellular environment whilst imaging still remain, multi-dimensional live-cell in-vivo imaging offers correlating data to in-vitro and in-silico studies.

On the sidebar you will find a review paper about the purpose and function of an advanced light microscopy imaging facility that I have written. You can download a similar article written by George McNamara & Carl Boswell from Lab Manager. Here, also is a link to a further paper that I’ve written for the amateur society, the Quekett Microscopical Club, on imaging facilities. A list of things to consider when designing and building an imaging facility that I have written can be found here, and which was published as an Appendix to George McNamara’s 2016 update to his 2005 article on Microscopy & Image analysis in Current Protocols in Human Genetics.

Career comment

As far as a career as a professional microscopist running an imaging facility, people are drawn from three broad areas: from working as a histologist or technician, as I did; as an academic from a research background requiring microscopy or from an image analysis and data-handling background. Some careers, particularly those with consequences for health or financial loss, have their right to practice and often their training requirements regulated by law, by public authority or by professional bodies. Working as a State-registered histologist in the NHS is an example. Working as a medically-qualified doctor, as a nurse, or architect is an extension of this principle. These  ‘sectoral professions’ are those which are regulated in every EU country and where training and education requirements have been harmonised. Where membership of a professional body is mandatory – such as the microscopy-related histology career cited above that I first pursued – the career path is well-defined and hierarchical. Unfortunately, for most professional microscopists this is not the case. Whilst there exist professional bodies, such as the RMS, MSA and IFSM, there is no clear career path for aspiring professional microscopists. I’ve written this paragraph precisely because Kurt Thorn, a very competent imaging facility manager with a superb blog has left microscopy and academia for industry, saying:  “I’m moving away from microscopy because it’s not clear that there are that many career opportunities for someone who is a microscopy expert. I spent a good chunk of the last year talking to people in industry about industry opportunities for someone with my expertise, and I didn’t find many options. …  I don’t think microscopy expertise is [considered] as valuable as say, expertise with antibody engineering, next-gen sequencing, or CRISPR.”

Imaging Facilities

References on setting up Light Microscopy Imaging Facilities

  1. Anderson, KI; Sanderson, J & Peychl, J (2007)  Design and Function of a Light-Microscopy Facility Chapter 4, pp 93-113 in: Imaging Cellular and Molecular Biological Functions eds. Shorte, SL & Frischknecht, F Springer- Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg ISBN 978-3-540-71330-2
  2. Sanderson, JB (2010) Light Microscopy Imaging Facilities  in: Encyclopedia of Life Sciences (ELS) John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester
  3. Sanderson, JB (2017) Imaging facility checklist Appendix 4.4.1 in: McNamara, G et al (2017) Curr. Protoc. Hum. Genetics doi 10.1002/cphg.42
  4. Ferrando-May, E et al (2016) Advanced light microscopy core facilities: Balancing service, science and career Microsc Res Tech. 79/6: 463-79
  5. Baird, TR et al (2014) Mercury free microscopy: an opportunity for Core Facility directors Jour. Biomol. Tech. 25/2: 48-53
  6. Sporbert, A & Cseresnyes, Z (2012) Core Facility Management GIT Imaging & Microscopy
  7. Sánchez, C et al (2011) Setting Up and Running an Advanced Light Microscopy and Imaging Facility Curr. Protoc. Cytom. Chapter 12: Unit 12.22
  8. Farber, GK & Weiss, L (2011) Core facilities: Maximizing the return on investment Sci. Transl. Med. 3/95: 95cm21
  9. Clarke, DT et al (2011) Optics clustered to output unique solutions: a multi-laser facility for combined single molecule and ensemble microscopy Rev Sci Intruments 82/9: 093705
  10. Gibbs, G et al (2010) Cost (non)-recovery by platform technology facilities in the Bio21 cluster Jour. Biomolec. Techs. 21/1: 29-34
  11. Samson, RH (2009) Setting up an imaging center, adding CT, MRI and an angiography suite to vascular labs Journal of Vascular Surgery 49/4: 1073-1076
  12. Klaunberg BA, Davis JA. (2008) Considerations for laboratory animal imaging center design and setup. ILAR Journal 49/1: 4-16.
  13. Sanderson, J (2008) The role of the centralised light microscope imaging facility in modern biology Quekett Jour. Microscopy 40/: 715-739
  14. McNamara, G & Boswell, C (2007) Bio-Medical Light Microscopy Imaging Facility Management Lab Manager, March 31st 2007
  15. Trogadis, J (2007) Issues in the Management of a Core Imaging Facility ALN Magazine Nov/Dec 2007
  16. Hogan, H (2006) Getting to the Core: microscope facilities face a variety of challenges Biophotonics International 10/8: 34-39
  17. Stout, BD et al (2005) Small animal imaging center design: Facility at UCLA Crump Institute for molecular imaging Mol. Imaging Biol.  7: 393-402
  18. Humphrey, E (2004) How to promote a facility in order to increase use, acquire new equipment and, as a result, increase revenueMicroscopy Today 12: 32-36
  19. O’Keefe, MA et al (2004) Laboratory design for high-performance eelctron microscopy Microscopy Today 12: 8-14
  20. Sherman, D (2003) Core Facility management session: maintaining major equipment in the core microscopy facility Microscopy Today 11: 40-45
  21. Murphy, JA (2002) Designing a microscopy/analytical instrumentation facility: step-by-step procedure. Microscopy Today 10: 36-39  Checklist
  22. DeMaggio, S (2002) Running and setting up a confocal microscope core facility. Methods in Cell Biology 70: 475-485 ISBN 0-12-480277-X
  23. Helm, JP et al (2001) Design and installation of a multimode microscopy system Proc. SPIE vol. 4262: 396-406
  24. White, N & Errington, R (2001) Setting up and managing a biological laser scanning microscope resource Bio-Rad Technical Note 12
  25. Lyttle, T (1999) A model university analysis and instrumentation facility Editorial in Int. Scientific Comms. (no further citation details).
  26. Angeletti, RH et al (1999) Research Technologies: Fulfilling the Promise The FASEB Journal. vol. 13: 595-601
Image facility paper
Quekett paper