A view of our newly emerging research building in March 2020
© Michael Kuhlmann

Multiscale Imaging Centre

Imaging experts from various faculties under one roof

The Multiscale Imaging Centre, MIC for short, is the central research building of the Cells in Motion Interfaculty Centre at the University of Münster and is currently being built on Röntgenstraße 16, right in the middle of Münster University’s life and natural sciences campus. In future, working groups from various faculties will be based here. We will be bringing together a core of our wide range of expertise in biomedical imaging, as well as the corresponding technologies which we use to investigate the behaviour of cells in organisms. Our research building also provides a central meeting point for scientists from Münster as well as international guests involved in the research field of cell dynamics and imaging.

  • What’s behind the building’s name?

    Imaging is a central element in our field of research which we use systematically to analyse cellular processes in organisms. Using a variety of imaging technologies enables us to observe various aspects: high-resolution microscopic methods, for example, enlarge minute structures and permit the highly detailed examination of individual cells and their components – however, only a spatial snapshot of the organism can be analysed. Methods of whole-body imaging such as positron emission tomography or magnetic resonance imaging have a lower resolution than microscopes – but, in contrast, they enable the entire organism with its tissues and organs to be depicted.

    In order to be able to examine the same cell in various spatial dimensions and over time, we incorporate different imaging technologies into our investigations. We want to integrate information gathered from the individual cellular level up to the level of the entire organism, and we expect that this holistic view will allow us to identify links between cellular mechanisms and the function of organs. This specific “multiscale imaging” methodology is what gives our building its name. It requires new chemical-biological strategies for the labelling of cells that enable us to label the same cell type, or even the same cell, with different signal transmitters – e.g. with fluorescent, magnetic or radioactive molecules – because these generate signals that become visible through different imaging technologies. New challenges are also posed in the evaluation of image data. Here we need to integrate data sets from different imaging techniques to recognise complex patterns in cell behaviour on a holistic level. Mathematical models and the training of artificial intelligence – so-called deep learning – play an essential role here.

  • Who will be working and meeting in the building?

    Researchers from the fields of medicine, natural sciences, mathematics and computer science work in the area of cell dynamics and imaging; they are already closely networked concerning the content of their research, and now they will also come together physically in the Multiscale Imaging Centre. Around 260 people from the Faculties of Medicine, Biology, Chemistry and Pharmacy, and Mathematics and Computer Science will be working in the new building. These will include researchers who were newly recruited to strengthen our research focus and who have built up their teams at Münster University. Nuclear medicine specialist Prof. Michael Schäfers is the spokesperson for the Multiscale Imaging Centre.

    Our research building will also provide a central meeting point for scientists from Münster and international guests. We will be coming together here to listen to talks, take part in symposia or attend Cells in Motion members’ meetings. The Multiscale Imaging Centre is located in the middle of Münster University’s life and natural sciences campus. Its immediate neighbour is the Max Planck Institute – and little more than a stone’s throw away are the Center for Molecular Biology of Inflammation (ZMBE), the Center for Soft Nanoscience (SoN), the Center for NanoTechnology (CeNTech) and many other institutes and clinics where scientists investigate topics relating to cell dynamics and imaging.

    The following working groups are scheduled to move into the Multiscale Imaging Centre:

    Faculty of Medicine

    Faculty of Biology

    Faculty of Chemistry and Pharmacy

    Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science

CiM
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© WWU/Erk Wibberg

Artwork installed in the Multiscale Imaging Centre

A twelve-meter high wall installation adorns the foyer of the Multiscale Imaging Centre. The work, by artist Cordula Hesselbarth, is entitled “Auf|Lösung” (Re|Solution) and embodies the research that scientists will be undertaking in the building.

Building the Multiscale Imaging Centre

Photos

May 2017: Ready to go! The construction site sign is up and building permission has been granted.
© WWU/Sylwia Marschalkowski
  • Prior to this, the building site was already searched thoroughly for unexploded bombs from World War Two – luckily, none were found.
    © WWU/Sylwia Marschalkowski
  • July 2017: The foundation stone for the Multiscale Imaging Centre is laid! Scientists from the “Cells in Motion” research network who will be doing research in the new building are delighted, as are the Deans of the Faculties involved. The Federal government and the regional State governments had agreed on the construction of the research building after a corresponding recommendation from the German Council of Science and Humanities. Nuclear medicine specialist Prof. Michael Schäfers (third from the left) is the spokesperson for the Multiscale Imaging Centre.
    © WWU/Christina Heimken
  • A time capsule is filled with daily newspapers, coins and building plans by representatives of the Ministry of Science of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), the City of Münster, Münster University, the Construction and Real Estate Management Authority for NRW which is carrying out the project for Münster University, and the Gerber architectural practice. The time capsule is then deposited in the foundation walls of the new building.
    © WWU/Christina Heimken
  • August 2017: The basement and the lift shaft have now been prepared, …
    © WWU/Friedemann Kiefer
  • … and the water and electricity mains for the building have been laid.
    © WWU/Manfred Thomas
  • April 2018: With two cranes, the shell construction is growing upwards fast. The workers on the site are currently completing the first storey. Three more are to follow.
    © WWU/Sylwia Marschalkowski
  • September 2018: Workers put the first windows into the façade of the Multiscale Imaging Centre.
    © WWU/Erk Wibberg
  • The interior of the building takes shape, too. A view from the second floor, showing the foyer on the right, which will be flooded with daylight through a glass roof later, and an atrium, open to the sky, on the left.
    © WWU/Erk Wibberg
  • The atrium, open to the sky, lets in the daylight for the adjacent rooms. The wall on the right will be planted out with some urban greenery later.
    © WWU/Erk Wibberg
  • The auditorium, our future place for lectures and symposia.
    © WWU/Erk Wibberg
  • The future laboratory area.
    © WWU/Erk Wibberg
  • January 2019: Having built a prototype laboratory, the planning team is finalizing the last details concerning the equipment to be installed in the labs. Of particular importance are functionality and safety issues.
    © WWU/Erk Wibberg
  • As to the labs’ appearance, the floor covering will be anthracite, and a glass front will separate the documentation zone with PC work stations (foreground) from the lab area.
    © WWU/Erk Wibberg
  • The building’s façade will have the clinker brick design typical of the Münsterland region. The photo shows a view from Röntgenstraße, where the main entrance will be located (view from the south-west).
    © WWU/Erk Wibberg
  • December 2019: The first large device has arrived at our new research building – a cyclotron, i.e., a particle accelerator which will be used to produce radioactive substances for medical imaging. A crane was used to carefully lift the cyclotron under the building’s rear protrusion.
    © WWU/Michael Kuhlmann
  • With exacting precision, the team placed the device, which weighs approximately 19 tons, on mobile feet …
    © WWU/Michael Kuhlmann
  • … and then decoupled it from the crane.
    © WWU/Michael Kuhlmann
  • On a narrow access path, the heavy device was pulled …
    © WWU/Michael Kuhlmann
  • … and carefully pushed into the building.
    © WWU/Michael Kuhlmann
  • Finally, the cyclotron is precisely positioned in the basement of the building. It is surrounded by a lead-filled shielding, which ensures radiation protection. Later, radiochemical laboratories will be set up in the adjacent rooms.
    © WWU/Michael Kuhlmann
  • March 2020: Spring sun and blue skies all around our research building. This is how we imagined it – compare the design by the Dortmund architectural practice of Gerber Architekten on the right! As a result of the sloping terrain and taking account of the adjacent buildings, our building has five floors in the northern part and three in the southern part. The outside impression of the compact, tiered structure is dominated by a protruding entrance area, broad window hinges and a brick clinker façade typical of the region.
    © WWU - Michael Kuhlmann/Gerber Architekten
  • September 2020: In the laboratories of the Multiscale Imaging Centre, a glass front with sliding doors separates the documentation zone (left) from the experimental zone (right).
    © WWU/Erk Wibberg
  • The documentation zone (back) will later house computer workstations where researchers can log and evaluate experiments. They will be sitting in a protected area where, for example, laboratory noises are acoustically significantly attenuated.
    © WWU/Erk Wibberg
  • The close proximity to the experimental zone will allow researchers to keep an eye on ongoing experiments at the same time.
    © WWU/Erk Wibberg
  • A look into the foyer of the Multiscale Imaging Centre. In the future, this space will provide a place for hosting events. With its high ceilings the foyer extends over three floors. Daylight floods it through a glass roof.
    © WWU/Erk Wibberg
  • From the foyer, you can directly enter the future auditorium. Here, the final installations on the ceiling are being carried out before the ceiling is clad.
    © WWU/Erk Wibberg
  • April 2021: In the auditorium, the framework for the seating is now in place. In future, it will have space for almost 200 people.
    © WWU/Erk Wibberg
  • The view into the building’s foyer from the ground floor entrance area …
    © WWU/Erk Wibberg
  • … and from the upper floor. On the left, the installation of an artwork is taking place. On the right, the cantilevered stairs lead to the open, upper floors.
    © WWU/Erk Wibberg
  • Areas adjacent to the atrium (right) provide space for informal work meetings and joint breaks.
    © WWU/Erk Wibberg
  • The green wall in the atrium has now been planted out. The atrium will provide space for breaks in the fresh air.
    © WWU/Erk Wibberg

Construction of our Multiscale Imaging Center began in summer 2017. The buidling has approximately 4300 m2 of floor space being used for laboratories and 1500 m2 for offices, seminar rooms and a lecture hall. The builder-owner is due to hand the building over to the University of Münster towards the end of 2021. The research groups hope to move in this winter. The costs for construction and initial fixtures and fittings, amounting to around 71 million euros, will be borne by the Federal Government in Berlin, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and Münster University. The Federal government and the regional State governments had agreed on the construction of the research building in June 2014 after a recommendation from the German Council of Science and Humanities.