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Wednesday, August 04, 2021
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Optical-based imaging of the breast cancer tumor microenvironment from the Eliceiri lab.

Building a better bioimaging community: Chan Zuckerberg Initiative supports international partnership

Kevin Eliceiri, Morgridge Institute investigator and professor of biomedical engineering and medical physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is the lead investigator on a $1.2 million grant from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) in support of the imaging expertise network known as BioImaging North America (BINA).

BINA brings together the bioimaging community in Canada, the United States and Mexico. They work closely with individuals and core facilities to formulate meaningful partnerships that provide guidance, assistance, training opportunities, data sharing and technology dissemination to the Biomedical Engineering community. Eliceiri also serves on the executive committee of BINA, along with lead members from eight other research entities.

“We wanted to have a well-organized training and dissemination network across the United States and our North American partners,” Eliceiri said. “In part, it was inspired by all the wonderful things happening in Europe and Australia where there already were consortiums, such as Euro Bioimaging where many European countries got together to do such a training network.” 

While UW-Madison has programs for mentorship within the College of Engineering itself, the majority of mentorship happens off the books. Clubs like Women in STEM, while worthwhile, are not always received in the specific lense of an engineering field. For instance, Eliceiri found his passion for mentoring through helping students outside of the classroom.

Eliceiri’s personal research entails building microscopes and developing software at both the Morgridge Institute and UW-Madison. As his career progressed, Eliceiri has increasingly done more work with developing novel software for quantitating images. He is co-lead investigator of an NIH funded collaborative center at UW that is dedicated to developing open source software for image analysis which heavily involves both UW and Morgridge investigators.  

It was Eliceiri’s passion for community building at both the Morgridge Institute and UW-Madison that motivated him to join BINA in order to do more mentoring and training in a formal setting. 

“When I saw the opportunity to help create a national imaging community, I thought there was no better place than Morgridge, which has already put an emphasis on building scientific expertise communities. In the case of CZI, I don’t really consider them just a funder, but more of a partner,” Eliceiri said. “They’ve had a lot of major input and great ideas about how to move BINA forward.”

The Executive Committee of BINA emphasizes the community building aspect that they hope to improve by bringing on paid staff for improved organization and increased efforts. Eliceiri’s contribution to build community locally primed him for expanding efforts nationwide.

“I have an investigator home in Morgridge, and one of my Morgridge roles was to build an imaging community across campus, that includes current Morgridge investigators Melissa Skala and Jan Huisken,” said Eliceiri. “So when I saw the opportunity to help create a national imaging community, I thought there was no better place than Morgridge, which has already put an emphasis on building scientific expertise communities.” 

The CZI grant was written with largely the intention of hiring two new staff members — an experienced program director and an administrator to aid the BINA organization. The remaining funds will be used for training kits, conferences and travel, but the two staff are the main component. Both staff will be housed within the Morgridge Institute. 

“BINA to date has largely been a grassroots effort here in North America to create an imaging training and expertise network, and the CZI funding will greatly help foment our activities,” Eliceiri said. 

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