Living biological systems, which exhibit remarkably diverse functions, are in the end based on the complex interaction of thousands of different proteins in micron-sized volumes. In biology, scientific insight is often conceived at frontiers where diverse disciplines meet: new ways to label tissues at the molecular level, new techniques in optical and electron microscopy, powerful electronics to collect terabytes of data, and computer algorithms that can reveal complex patterns and relationships. To be able to peer into this world is the ultimate imaging challenge.
At Janelia, we seek to harness and introduce new disciplines or technologies that are relevant, and to promote a coherent systems approach for optimal benefit to biological research. Three programs characterize this effort: super-resolution 3D optical microscopy, large-volume high-throughput 3D electron microscopy and gas cluster ion beam scanning electron microscopy (GCIB-SEM). Such programs have been fostered with the collective participation of researchers at Janelia. The availability of genetically engineered samples, customized labels, instrumentation support, computation infrastructure, image processing, and theoretical modeling—as well as biologists to give inspiration and direction—is critical. We hope to bridge diverse fields, nucleate and drive collaborations, and be driven by new research opportunities identified by scientists worldwide.