The Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation have announced a partnership to make cutting-edge imaging technologies more widely available to the scientific community before they are available commercially.
With total start-up funds of $4.9 million over two years, an Advanced Imaging Center will be established at HHMI's Janelia Research Campus, which is dedicated in part to improving optical, biological, and computational technologies for creating and interpreting biological images. Instead of speeding production of machinery that requires more expertise to operate and maintain than the average lab possesses, the program aims to develop ways to bring scientists to the technology.
Scheduled to become operational this summer, the center will provide researchers in the life sciences with broader access to five advanced optical microscopes — the iPALM (interferometric photoactivated localization microscopy) super-resolution microscope, the single-molecule total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) microscope, the aberration-corrected multifocus microscope, the Bessel beam illumination optical microscope, and the three-dimensional two-color structured illumination microscopy (3D-SIM).
"It can take between five and ten years for new imaging technology to be available to scientists commercially," said HHMI president Robert Tjian. "We want more of the scientific community to have access to the revolutionary imaging methods and instruments being developed at Janelia. These tools are critical to advancing science, but they are not easy to share. They are expensive to build and maintain and they do not travel well."
"As new instruments are developed at Janelia and reach the stage of first scientific publication, copies of those instruments could then be fabricated and made available to visiting scientists to promote access [to] and [the] exploration of application space," said Gerald Rubin, executive director of Janelia. "As instruments become widely available through other means, such as commercialization, or become less useful due to other advances, they would be 'retired' from the AIC."