Christian Schmidt, Elisa Ferrando-May
NFDI4BIOIMAGE – An Initiative for a National Research Data Infrastructure for Microscopy Data
Bioimaging and biophotonics are key enabling research technologies in the natural and biomedical sciences. They both foot to a large extent on (light) microscopy, which has transformed from a mainly qualitative observational method to a big-data quantitative approach, as exemplified by automated high-content imaging. Advancements in microscopy instrumentation are achieved at an unprecedented pace driving the production of vast amounts of bioimage data. Novel AI-based bioimage informatics tools are emerging and facilitate knowledge extraction from these highly complex data with high information density. Therefore, image processing and analysis have become an intrinsic and essential component of bioimage-based research. At present, bioimaging data is mainly stored locally and is often not systematically annotated. Proprietary software and heterogeneous file formats impede comparability. Unfolding the full potential of bioimaging and biophotonics requires a culture of image data sharing and re-use that could advance research in multiple scientific disciplines. FAIRification of bioimage data management demands the development and adoption of common standards, harmonizing data handling practices, and extensive training and user education. Leveraging our experience within German BioImaging – Society for Microscopy and Image Analysis (GerBI-GMB) in bringing together microscopy users, IT infrastructure providers, image analysts, and application specialists at core facilities in Germany, we aim to tackle these challenges. We intend to submit our proposal for a consortium within the national research data infrastructure (NFDI) in 2021 to foster a state-of-the-art, high-quality bioimage data management ecosystem in Germany’s research data management landscape.