Bridging Nordic Microscopy Infrastructure, BNMI
In the last two decades, the development of imaging technologies has revolutionized research in biology and medicine, and it currently emerges as one of the most important areas in life sciences research. This has enabled both greater resolution and more quantitative imaging to study diverse biological processes. Techniques, such as super-resolution, light-sheet, expansion microscopy, cryo-electron microscopy and cellular 3D volume scanning electron microscopy are frequently identified as “method of the year” etc. Hence, modern microscopy has become a key technique and a powerful tool that provides important insights into cellular and molecular mechanisms throughout all branches of biological and medical research. Albeit, all these technologies and methods are well represented in all Nordic countries, networking between them seems to be weak.
The overall objective of Bridging Nordic Microscopy Infrastructure (BNMI) is to strengthen the international competitiveness and facilitating the development of world-leading Nordic advanced microscopy environments, by organizing scientific and technical Symposia, workshops and knowledge-exchange seminars, shadowing programs for facility staff and short-term scientific mobility grants for researchers and increase the training and innovation activities among the participant Nordic countries. Each partner representative and will partake in meetings to present and discuss the approach of their institute to the research topic. Combining the technologies and know-how will provide more solid base for future funding possibilities and strengthening the status of Nordic countries as imaging specialists.
All participating countries in this infrastructure; Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden have already established infrastructures and network organizations at national level that provide a full spectrum of biological imaging tools that are easily accessible for both academic and industry users. BNMI aims to become a new Nordic platform to facilitate more efficient collaboration and a long-term partnership between these countries. All these bioimaging infrastructures are united under the Euro-Bioimaging European Research Infrastructure Consortium leading the whole Europe working toward a better research, diagnostics and patient care.
In Denmark, the Danish Bioimaging network (www.danishbioimaging.dk) was created under a collaboration agreement between Aarhus University, Copenhagen University, Danish cancer Research Center, Danish technical University and Southern Denmark University. In DaMBIC at the Southern Denmark University offers CARS, SR, FLIM, RICS, and multiphoton. The University of Copenhagen Science Faculty (CAB) – offers confocal and multiphoton microscopes, functional microscopy, spinning disk, transmission and scanning electron microscopy, as well as histology and preparation labs of samples for live cell imaging. The newly created facility in Aarhus University, Health Faculty, offering high content screening. The CFIM at University of Copenhagen Health Faculty offers confocal, super-resolution and functional microscopy, serial block face SEM, CryoTEM and TEM tomography. In addition, there is a strong computer science community focused on developing image-based applications.
In Iceland, the Biomedical Center, University of Iceland (BMC-UI) is an official collaboration between research groups working in biomedical molecular life sciences in Iceland across institutions (http://lifvisindi.hi.is/). The main goal of BMC-UI is to build core facilities, to unite researchers in Iceland under one umbrella to maximize the use of infrastructures and encourage collaborations across disciplines. Imaging is one of the major core facilities within BMC-UI which currently offers advanced capabilities in confocal and electron microscopy in addition to IncuCyte and EVOS imaging techniques. A project manager oversees training and use of the microscopes.
In Finland, the universities participating in the Finnish Advanced Light Microscopy ALM Node consortium (https://eurobioimaging.fi/) include the University of Helsinki, University of Turku, Åbo Akademi University, and University of Oulu. The Finish ALM Node is a multi-sited and multimodal national research infrastructure that provides open access to state-of-the-art imaging technologies to local, national, and international users from academia and industry. In Helsinki, three imaging facilities at the University of Helsinki are part of the Finnish ALM Node: Light Microscopy Unit, Biomedicum Imaging Unit and Electron Microscopy Unit; these core units provide a large number of state-of-the-art light microscopy technologies including super-resolution 3D Stochastic Optical Reconstruction Microscopy (STORM) technique as well as Correlative Light and Electron Microscopy (CLEM). In Turku, Cell Imaging and Cytometry, a joint core facility provided by Åbo Akademi University and University of Turku provides access to high-end light microscopy technologies including super-resolution 3D Stimulated Emission Depletion Microscopy (STED) technique. Biocenter Oulu Imaging Centre at the University of Oulu provides access to cutting-edge mesoscopic imaging technologies including Optical Projection Tomography (OPT) and Light Sheet Fluorescence Microscopy (LSFM). All three sites of the Finnish ALM Node develop and provide label-free imaging technologies including PhotoAcoustic Microscopy (PAM) in Turku, Optical Resolution-PAM (OR- PAM) in Oulu, and Coherent Anti-Stokes Raman Scattering (CARS) microscopy in Helsinki.
In Norway, the Norwegian Advanced Light Microscopy Imaging Infrastructure network (NALMIN) is now well established with imaging centers at all life science research organizations (http://nalmin.no). NALMIN offers access to and services within the most advanced technologies in light microscopy, including super-resolution microscopy, fast live microscopy, coherent Raman microscopy, correlative light and electron microscopy (CLEM) and High throughput microscopy. Localized in 5 nodes distributed in Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim and Tromsø, NALMIN is a bona fide national infrastructure network. Because the different nodes provide different specialties in light microscopy, NALMIN offers access to a wide spectrum of advanced microscopy applications and thus makes Norwegian research environment more competitive for international publications and funding.
In Sweden, the Swedish National Microscopy Infrastructure (NMI), (http://nmisweden.se/) has been established as a distributed infrastructure with specialized nodes at the Stockholm University, University of Gothenburg, Umeå University, Uppsala University and the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), with the mission to provide access to advanced technology and competence in microscopy for the local, national, and international life sciences users from academia and industry. NMI was funded by the Swedish Research Council in 2016 and receives substantial support from the hosting universities. Each node has a defined operation and specialty: KTH, Super-resolution microscopy, FCS, Light-sheet and Cell profiling; GU, Correlative Multimodal Imaging; SU, Intravital microscopy; UmU, Correlative microscopy and Electron tomography; UU, image and data analysis. All nodes have supporting functions (cell culture, sample prep laboratories etc.) as well as a full range of conventional microscopes, which are a prerequisite to support projects in the specialised techniques. The NMI nodes are supported by an administrative team that is responsible for project management, the project web portal, the web site, software license servers and data handling. They also coordinate activity of NMI support users in finding the best technology for their research questions and also to combine techniques from different nodes