The Tools and Resources Development Fund (TRDF) from BBSRC/EPSRC/MRC aims to pump prime the next generation of tools, technologies and resources that will be required by bioscience researchers. It is anticipated that successful grants will not exceed £150k (£187k FEC) and a fast-track, light touch peer review process will operate to enable researchers to respond rapidly to emerging challenges and opportunities.
The 2016 TRDF call has a specific focus on bioimaging. Imaging within life and health sciences research, or bioimaging, is an area of significant interest for BBSRC, EPSRC and MRC. Cutting edge bioimaging technologies play a crucial role in advancing basic discovery science, enabling scientists to generate fundamental insight into living systems (microbes, plants, animals and humans) which can have translational outcomes in both biological and biomedical science that contribute to well-being and the bioeconomy.
Bioimaging is performed across a range of length scales, from high-voltage cryo-electron microscopes used in structural biology to study biomolecules, to enormously powerful super-resolution microscopes that can break the light diffraction barrier to monitor sub-cellular processes, through to whole organism imaging used to monitor physiological and pathophysiological processes. It is a fast developing field with new techniques, improvements in core equipment and enabling technologies, data management and image analysis continually advancing the boundaries of scientific endeavour.
Advances in quantitative methods for imaging and image analysis have widened the scope of what imaging as a technology can enable in terms of scientific discovery. However improved technological approaches are still needed to enable measurements inside cellular compartments and to study dynamics, further enhancing the resolution, sensitivity, precision and image quality of techniques such as super-resolution, Raman and electron microscopy. Progress will also be enabled by the development of detectors, lasers, multi-channel measurement techniques and probes, new labelling (or label-free) methods, strategies for novel in vivo and real-time bioimaging including non-perturbative imaging techniques, and approaches to bridge gaps in length scales experienced using current imaging technologies (e.g. multimodal methods). The development of software for data management and image analysis is recognised as another very important need, including methods to integrate image data with other data types.
The 2016 TRDF call has been designed with a bioimaging focus as an opportunity to respond promptly to the increasing requirement for technological and software advances, and recognising the important role of engineering and physical sciences research in addressing these challenges.
Below are some examples of technology development challenges that are considered to be in scope and out of scope, respectively.
In scope, innovative new approaches for:
- Imaging at cellular and sub-cellular scales, e.g. light and EM microscopy
- Imaging of tissues and whole organisms, e.g. by CT, photo-acoustic or thermal imaging
- Imaging to support analytical techniques, e.g. chemical imaging
- Software and analytical tools to enable bioimage acquisition, management and/or analysis
- Strategies for classification and feature extraction from bioimages, e.g. employing machine learning
Out of scope:
- Applied medical imaging (i.e. technologies for direct clinical use)