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ASCB launches 'The Cell: An Image Library' to inspire discovery and improve human health

Philadelphia, December 13, 2010 The American Society for Cell Biology, in collaboration with Glencoe Software, Inc and the Open Microscopy Environment (OME), today announce the launch of The Cell: An Image Library at the 50th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology. In 2009 the ASCB was awarded a $2.5M stimulus grant through the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) Grand Opportunities program to build a novel multi-dimensional image library of scientific images of cells and their constituents. This online resource of digital images was first made publicly available on August 9, 2010, and is now fully operational and freely available to multiple end users across research, clinical, educational and public communities internationally. The library is available at and currently houses nearly a thousand images. Submission of images to The Cell is open to the community, and the collection should grow rapidly.

The Cell library is an easily accessible public resource database of images, videos, and animations of cells from a variety of organisms. The purpose of this database is (1) to advance research on cellular activity with the ultimate goal of improving human health, and (2) to provide a public educational resource that contributes to the understanding of the wonders of the biology of living organisms.

There are numerous significant outcomes that are being realized as The Cell library evolves: (1) historically important archives of cellular microscopy image data are being uploaded, (2) dormant, off-line image data are being made available for review and re-discovery with modern microscopy analysis techniques, (3) a common image file format for biological research, OME-TIFF, is being further utilized, and (4) the foundation is being built for a systematic protocol for image uploading, evaluation and metadata-annotation. Ultimately, the Image Library will usher in a revolution in educational resource tools for the biological sciences.

Joan R. Goldberg, Executive Director of the ASCB, said "The ASCB is proud to be developing this new resource. Open source technology developed by OME is helping to deliver this critical resource to the research and education communities."

Investigators from around the world will contribute image datasingle frames, multi-dimensional stacks, and time lapse videos. Researchers use dozens of different microscope hardware and software instruments to produce specialized three-dimensional images of cells. To access these myriad data formats, The Cell uses technology developed by OME (, and customized through OME's commercial arm, Glencoe Software Inc. The Cell is based on Bio-Formats and OMERO, open source enterprise-level scientific image data access and management systems built by the OME Consortium. These tools are designed to read and interpret scientific image data and metadata from a wide variety of sources, and enable annotation, visualization and sharing of image data.

Jason Swedlow, CEO of Glencoe Software, and co-founder of the OME, said "Glencoe Software and OME see the ASCB's The Cell: An Image Library as a vital resource for life science researchers all over the world. We are pleased that our recent work on OMERO is being used to support this important public resource. This demonstrates the capabilities of OMERO and further solidifies our industry-leading expertise in scientific data access and management."


Contact: David Orloff
American Society for Cell Biology

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