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About South Africa BioImaging

Why BioImaging?

Globally, we have witnessed immense developments and profound transformation regarding imaging technologies. Two Nobel prizes have recently been awarded for super-resolution and cryo-electron microscopy, leading the resolution revolution. A revolution, not only because the value of microscopy in solving real societal challenges is being recognized, but also because of its immense power in connecting and enabling the pressing challenges in society, such as big data management and artificial intelligence. Modern imaging technologies contribute fundamentally to the grand societal challenges in health, infectious diseases, healthy aging, cancer, heart disease, but also in the fields of food security, plant biology and agricultural sciences, invasion biology, plant resistance and crop yields, marine and environmental biology as well as computer science, data management and engineering.

Impact for capacity building

Bioimaging plays a major role in skills training, job creation and capacity building, training the next generation MSc and PhD students and hence building an inherent knowledge-based society.

Bioimaging in South Africa is particularly tough…

Using high end microscopy technologies in South Africa is particularly hard. Access to know-how, with such specialized, multimillion Rand (often 10-15 MIO ZAR per instrument) worth of equipment is not easy. Being able to generate data that is globally competitive and hence technically sound, adhering to all correct, internationally leading imaging standards, is important. This bears the second challenge, being able to handle big data, and to conduct correct image processing and image analysis. With limited funding and major responsibility to train students, not much time and funding can be spent on experimental optimizations, and risk has to be low. Reagents are costly, often challenging to import, and not implementable in all labs in South Africa.

Microscopy in South Africa reveals major polarity to the detriment of the next generation scientists…

Major polarity exists across the universities in South Africa, with regards to access to microscopy instruments, know-how and trained imaging scientists or core managers that can guide the user. Often, former teaching universities are just starting out to build research capacity, and are left alone, disconnected. Only very few of the South African universities operate their microscopes in an open access fashion, and dedicated, well trained instrument staff is the exception. The polarity deepens and talented students are deprived of the exposure and skills development that comes through the use of microscopy.

This is the gap that SABI wishes to fill

We connect the South African imaging scientists, to share know-how, (home-grown) and protocols that align with global standards.

We also provide points of departure for open access to the microscopes available in the different provinces, with contact details of the imaging staff.

We provide guidance for young labs that wish to start out using microscopy techniques but feel uncertain.

We provide a network for the facilitation of training of staff and imaging scienists,

We provide the means to be plugged into the global network of global bioimaging scientists.

We provide a network to make it easier for acquiring fluorescent probes and correct dishes.


We provide protocols for the different types of image acquisitions

We provide protocols for various image processing approaches

We provide protocols for a multitude of image analysis approaches

We provide a community of wonderful people, passionate about imaging.

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