OMEGA: an open-source framework for collaboration in bioimage informatics

The purpose of computing is insight not numbers (Richard Hamming, 1962)

Suber cells and mimosa leaves
(Robert Hooke, Micrographia, 1665).

Modern cell biology is founded on technologies that enable the real time, spatially resolved and quantitative description of events occurring within the living system at scales ranging from single molecules to entire multi-cellular organisms.

Today, the sophistication of quantitative digital microscopy allows scientists to "watch life as it happens" in a manner that was unimaginable only a short while ago. Nonetheless, much work remains to be done in order to take full advantage of these technological advances in a manner that is able to transform large quantities of image data into meaningful scientific insight and knowledge.

OMEGA is an open-source software development project led by Caterina Strambio De Castillia at the Program in Molecular Medicine (PMM) of the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS). The OMEGA project is carried out in collaboration with a multidisciplinary team of scientists including Jeremy Luban and Kevin Fogarty at UMMS, Tiziano Leidi at the University of Applied Sciences of Southern Switzerland (SUPSI), Ivo Sbalzarini at the Max Plank Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics at Dresden, Eric Hunter at Emory University and Bernd Rinn at ETH-Zurich.

While the current focus of the OMEGA project is the development of tools for the quantitative, real-time, sub-cellular tracking of HIV-1 viral particles in living human cells, our more general aim is to develop universal tools that can be used across multiple scientific questions, model system and experimental contexts.

The ultimate goal of the OMEGA project is to contribute to a paradigm shift that would put the quantitative potential of bioimaging at the service of a systematic understanding of living systems, under both physiological and pathological conditions.

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