UK Community group support for BioImage Analyst


Dear Community,

As many of you will be aware, the necessity for image analysis is growing in the biosciences [1]. There is now a clear need for a better organised community of (Bio)Image Analysts who will support this growth [2,3]. Several schemes have been setup, or run in the past, to help form an image analysis community that can respond to needs on a national or international level. The NEUBIAS network ( has recently been set up to help address these issues on an EU wide-level and is growing with success, but presently there is very little activity nationally in the UK.

At a recent meeting of the Royal Microscopy Society (RMS) council, the importance of image analysis was discussed and the RMS are keen to assist the UK BioImage Analyst community in forming and organising. To this end, key members of the RMS Skyped with members of the UK NEUBIAS management committee and discussed ideas on how best to get our act together. The main action of this meeting was to contact BioImage Analysts and related scientists in the UK to discuss the idea of creating a (Bio)Image Analysis Focused Interest Group (FIG), which would be associated with and supported by the RMS.

At this stage, we would like to contact you, the community, for your views and discuss what form this interaction may take and what outcomes we would like to see for the community. As with any grass-roots community activity, we will depend on enthusiastic volunteers to get on-board and help organise and communicate activities.

So, our first question is – are you interested and can you get involved to help build this community? If so, please reply to this email with your name and affiliation.

We think the first activity should be to organise a town hall meeting for the community. Questions we should consider are:

  • Should we set up a more formalised UK-based BioImaging Analysis community group?
  • Should this group be an RMS-associated FIG?
  • How often should we meet?
  • What activities are within our remit, and what outcomes are we aiming for?

With volunteers who reply to this email, we will organise the town hall meeting. Considerations include:

  • Should we arrange a workshop at a microscopy conference and if so which one (MMC2019, BioFrontiers) and how long full-half-day event?
  • Alternatively, should we arrange a day long get-together somewhere away from established conferences?
  • Should we meet to discuss just the needs of the community, or should we try and combine it with a scientific conference and sharing of BioImage research interests?
  • Who should chair or co-chair this meeting?

Potential topics for discussion at a town hall meeting also include (please react to these ideas and suggest others):

  • Is BioImage Analysis a science or a service?
  • Should career paths be either technical or academic for BioImage Analysts?
  • Image analysis training, standards and qualifications.
  • Cost recovery models for image analysis in a facility environment.
  • Am I getting the professional support I need?
  • Should there be grant funding to maintain software rather than initiating novel research projects?
  • How to we encourage the inclusion of BioImage Analysts on research funding and advisory panels?
  • What we should be asking for from the RMS and who else can help us?
  • How do we get better representation in the larger image analysis arena?
  • How best can we can attract computer scientists and biophysicists whom have skills within this discipline but do not engage with the bioimaging community?
  • How can we ensure that bioImage Analysis is represented in the curriculum of computer science as well as biomedical sciences.
  • Should we be engaging more actively with bioinformaticians and how could we do this?
  • What are the outcomes that we would like (e.g. a summary document that we will send to the government and also the various funding bodies active in the UK to raise awareness and provide a narrative through which to pursue further goals in the long-term)?

Graeme Ball, Lucy Collinson, Martin Jones, Dominic Waithe
UK members of the NEUBIAS Management Committee.
Alex Sossick, Peter O’Toole
Members of the Royal Microscopy Society Management Committee.
Iain Styles
Senior Lecturer in the School of Computer Science at the University of Birmingham

Reply to me: (

[1] A Pilot Survey on Bioimage Analysis Needs 2015: Results Summary (Kota Miura)