Modern cell and developmental biology and the now-established domain of systems biology use quantitative imaging methods to measure the location, dynamics and interaction of molecules in fixed and living cells, and at increasingly high spatial and temporal resolution. Quantitative imaging depends on the development, delivery, and use of sophisticated image processing and analysis algorithms. The availability of these data analysis tools is commonly cited as a major bottleneck in scientific discovery. Previously, the absence of common interfaces and defined standards for data structures hindered the sharing of new analysis methods and the open, shared access to image datasets. Moreover the sheer computational cost of running complex algorithms on large datasets demands access to compute facilities that, while existing, are not accessible via standardised, intuitive tools for most bench biologists.
This project combines developments in the OMERO application developed by the Open Microscopy Consortium led by Prof J Swedlow and the Rapid portlet development tool developed in Dr J I van Hemert's laboratory at the UK's National e-Science Centre. The resource generated will be a service with an intuitive user interface that enables bench biologists to access high performance computing resources for processing and analysing their multi-dimensional images of cells and tissues. We do not propose to develop a single stand-alone resource under this project but to provide a vital service for bench biologists, based on world-leading work performed in the UK that uses common, standardised interfaces and established principles in usability to provide access to cutting-edge image analysis methods for bench biologists. The resource will be released as a component of the open-source OMERO software suite that is currently either in testing or in daily use at most imaging sites in the UK and over 1200 sites worldwide. A stable version of Rapid will be bundled in these releases under the same license. We will build this service on top of the Edinburgh Compute Data Facility and the National Grid Service to provide the underlying e-Infrastructure.