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The DIF: A New Microscopic Imaging Centre

After millions of pounds invested in imaging technology and two long years of work, Dundee University in Scotland has finally opened its new microscopic imaging centre, the Dundee Imaging Facility (DIF).

The DIF comprises of various forms of imaging technology, including super-resolution and non-optical imaging, image analysis, sample preparation and histology, to name but a few.

The facility, which opened a couple of weeks ago, is supported by a dedicated and hugely experienced team, with varying backgrounds in biology, chemistry and physics, as well as practical experience in life and physical sciences.

But they all wouldn’t have gotten this far without testing the microscopes out, just to see what they are capable of, so some objects have already been under the microscopic spotlight. For instance, something to be examined in the DIF was sediment brought up by a tsunami, which turned out to be 1,500 years old. Other examples include human cells and barley chromosomes.

The facility is considered to be cutting edge, which should come as a surprise that Dundee is international renowned for its excellence in microscopy and imaging.

In fact, research into Biological Sciences at Dundee University was highest rated in the UK for the 2014 REF (Research Excellence Framework, which is the main research quality test carried out by higher education funding bodies.

“The opportunities for discovery based on biological microscopy are enormous,” said Professor Jason Swedlow, who is responsible for the development and growth of the DIF. “But these are perhaps equalled by the challenges in applying this rapidly evolving technology to important biological and biomedical problems.”

Professor Swedlow went on to explain that the DIF is just extending existing imaging technology  in an imaging facility that has already been proven to be sustainably-run.

The professor actually founded the Open Microscopy Environment (OME) at the university. The OME is an international association responsible for revolutionising how researchers and industrial partners can deal with vast amounts of image data.

DIF Director Dr Sam Swift said that the facility is aiming to transform research, offering scientists some of the biggest challenges of their careers.

“The [DIF]‘s ambition, to provide a collaborative research space actively supporting these research goals, feeds into the University of Dundee’s ‘Transformation Agenda’ to be Scotland’s leading university within the next 25 years.”

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