Imaging is now used globally as a method of quantitative measurement of biological and biomedical structure, composition and dynamics in the life and biomedical sciences. Imaging technology is rapidly evolving, with new modalities and applications appearing that enable new insights and discoveries1,2. These innovations present challenges at several different but interdependent levels. Sourcing and retaining expert research technology professionals (‘imaging scientists’), providing initial and ongoing training in advanced technologies, rapidly disseminating and offering easy access to new innovative methods and applications, publishing reproducible experiments, and managing and analyzing data are all global issues experienced by academic and industrial research labs and institutions. Global BioImaging ( was founded to meet these challenges and wherever possible use the spirit of cooperation across international boundaries to disseminate best practices, develop common imaging and data standards that promote data sharing, and develop world-class training programs and tools for imaging scientists.

Global Bioimaging has held annual ‘Exchange of Experience’ meetings ( since 2016. These meetings are open to all and seek to ensure the widest possible engagement with the worldwide imaging scientist community. So far, in-person meetings have been hosted by imaging communities in Europe, India, Australia and Singapore, and in 2020 an online meeting was hosted by Japan’s bioimaging community (Table 1). The meeting agendas, international working groups and informal discussions have repeatedly emphasized the need for standards for image data formats and public data resources. With rapid innovations in light-sheet microscopy, multiplex tissue imaging, spatial profiling of single-cell transcriptomes, mass spectrometry–based imaging, correlative imaging techniques, molecular imaging, advanced forms of microscopy-based spectroscopy (fluorescence correlation, Raman, hyperspectral) and several others, data complexity and dimensionality are increasing, which makes the need for open, common methods for recording imaging metadata even greater. Moreover, with the establishment and growth of public image data repositories, proposals for common metadata standards are now emerging. It is essential we define the specifications and usability requirements for data standards and repositories so that the global community of individual labs, core facilities, large multicenter projects and public data resources have the solutions they need to enable interrogation, analysis, sharing and publication of this new generation of datasets. Global BioImaging’s partners (Table 1) have observed these challenges across all boundaries of geography and scientific domain, and therefore have come together to try to identify universally relevant solutions.

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