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
Building the Multiscale Imaging Centre
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.