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Technology & Science

Integrative Biological Imaging Network (IBIN)

The Integrated Biological Imaging Network aims to bring together expertise from across the UK to advance the field of biological imaging. More details about the network and how to get involved are listed below.

Our Scientific Goals

The IBIN has three scientific goals that are key issues in cell biology. They are to: define the spatiotemporal dynamics of cell adhesion signalling; determine cell-specific cues that influence immune cell-tissue interactions; determine how tissue mechanics influence cell growth and signalling.


Challenge areas identified from January 2019 IBIN meeting:


– Computational

– Probe Development

– Super-Resolution

– 3D Bioimaging Instrumentation

– 3D Biomechanics


Each of these challenges is described in more detail below. Please use these as a guide for developing projects for IBIN funding.




– Develop mathematical models to interpret 3D imaging data and define collective behaviours

– Machine learning tools: Background noise removal and compensating for/tracking movement

– Quantitative analysis of shape changes in 3D volumes

– Unsupervised data acquisition – identification of features whilst imaging at different scales (AI); low resolution non-toxic to high resolution

– Developed software needs to be open source – use of online repositories (potentially through connection from IBIN hub website)


Probe Development


– Probes with long emission lifetimes to discriminate from background fluorescence. More excitation/emission wavelengths, improved QY/brightness, tuneable singlet/triplet coupling for improved blinking performance, low molecular weight and can be used in live cells

– Optogenetic probes (red/far-red) to trigger cell death/signalling in cell subpopulations

– New probes for STORM/PALM – especially for multi-colour imaging

– Need better lipid-specific dyes for live imaging and probes to image cell membrane curvature

– Need long-term probes for tracking/imaging over multiple days for 3D samples

– Need tension sensor probes that are not protein specific

– A centralised way to share probes and knowledge (website links to pre-prints and white papers)




– Need standardisation/QC and ground truth tools, calibration slides and standard samples

– Finding ways to make STORM/PALM data easier to acquire/analyse from 3D samples

– New approaches to correlate super-resolution, AFM and EM datasets from same sample

– 3D Super-resolution: deep tissue (adaptive optics, multiphoton, optogenetics)

– Imaging exosomes in situ: ways to identify populations and characterise surface markers in 3D

3D Bioimaging Instrumentation

– Instrumentation and methods for rapid accurate spectral unmixing from multiple z-slices within 3D samples (≥300um)

– Combine label-free and label multimodal, compatible with live cell/tissues – eg: Spectral imaging, fluorescence lifetime, bioluminescence (luciferase), Raman and Brillouin etc.

– Single-cell optogenetic targeting in 3D (precision); needs to be low photon dose

– Improving resolution in 3D systems; eg: adaptive optics, 2-photon light sheet

3D Biomechanics

– Analysing relationships between cells and forces combined with functional imaging of signalling

– Reproducibility of 3D models: Hydrogels to incorporate native proteins, Control pore size/crosslink/stiffness and physical properties.

– Imaging of short-term mechanical events and longer-term cell fates

– Ways to image tension between cells and nuclear morphology changes in dense 3D cultures/tissues

– Cytoskeleton tension sensors to uncouple fluidity and tension

Project status: Completed

Principal Investigators


Funding Body: Medical Research Council

Amount: £752,827.00

Period: July 2018 - August 2022

Funding Body: Medical Research Council

Amount: £48,057.93

Period: July 2018 - August 2022