Omero: a solution and model for managing data-images

An innovative approach to creating an architecture for storing data-images has been developed by the  Open Microscopy Environment (OME), a collaborative  project between research laboratories at the Swedloe Lab at the University of Dundee (Scotland) and in the United States the National Institute on Aging, and the Laboratory for Optical and Computational Instrumentation (LOCI).  The OME produces tools to support data management especially for biological light microscopy; all OME formats and software are free, and it is designed to interact with commercial software. One project is the Java-based OMERO software, which includes tools for storing, visualizing, managing, and annotating microscopic images and metadata.

OMERO is used to power the JCB Dataviewer, developed by Journal of Cell Biology in 2008 as a voluntary repository of images in its published papers.  The American Society of Cell Biology (ASCB) uses OMERO for its Cell Image Library.  Both are browser-based applications for viewing original image data multidimensionally.  OMERO supports numerous file types, including the proprietary file types of many popular image-analysis software such as Adobe, ImageJ, and ImagePro.

The Cell Library and the DataViewer both have a detailed page for data-image viewing and simple analysis.  The power of OMERO combined with these public repositories gives users unprecedented access to original data-images.
The Cell Library and the JCB Dataviewer are a preview of data management for data-images in the future.  What’s missing so far are best practices guidelines for archiving the original images and standards for metadata that can be used to replicate post processing.  With such guidelines in place, OMERO will be a powerful tool for institutions in promoting ethical post processing of digital data-images for publication.

Link to Dataviewer:  http://jcb-dataviewer.rupress.org/jcb/page/imageformats
Link to Cell Library: http://www.ascb.org/ivl/design/microscopy.html

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