Imagining the future of bioimage analysis

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Modern biological research increasingly relies on image data as a primary source of information in unraveling the cellular and molecular mechanisms of life. The quantity and complexity of the data generated by state-of-the-art microscopes preclude visual or manual analysis and require advanced computational methods to fully explore the wealth of information. In addition to making bioimage analysis more efficient, objective, and reproducible, the use of computers improves the accuracy and sensitivity of the analyses and helps to reveal subtleties that may be unnoticeable to the human eye. Many methods and software tools have already been developed to this end, but there is still a long way to go before biologists can blindly trust automated measurements. Here, we summarize the current state of the art in bioimage analysis and provide a perspective on likely future developments.

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Figure 1: Common steps in bioimage analysis.
Figure 2: Examples of bioimage analysis in various applications.


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The authors thank their group members and collaborators for insightful discussions that have helped shape their thoughts and research in bioimage analysis over the years. They also thankfully acknowledge support from Erasmus University Medical Center (E.M.), the National Science Foundation (CAREER DBI 1148823 to A.E.C.), the Allen Institute for Brain Science and the Janelia Research Campus of Howard Hughes Medical Institute (H.P.), the German Research Foundation (DFG SFB 1129/1134) and a Weston Visiting Professorship (F.A.H.), and Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR-10-INBS-04-06-France- BioImaging) and Institut Pasteur (J.C.O.M.). Raw data for the bioimage analysis examples shown are courtesy of Graham Knott (Fig. 2c) and Anna Akhmanova (Fig. 2d).

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Correspondence to Erik Meijering.

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Meijering, E., Carpenter, A., Peng, H. et al. Imagining the future of bioimage analysis. Nat Biotechnol 34, 1250–1255 (2016) doi:10.1038/nbt.3722

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