Free Online Library of Cell Images Has a Birthday

ASCB’s “The Cell: An Image Library” Celebrates One Year Anniversary

Online Image Resource To Spur Discoveries and Education in Human Health

BETHESDA, MD, AUGUST 9, 2011 – An online library of cellular images freely available to biomedical researchers, educators, and the general public has reached its first birthday, with more than 2,800 browsable images posted, attracting 62,000 visits from 157 countries. Funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “The Cell: An Image Library” was created by the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) in collaboration with Glencoe Software and the Open Microscopy Environment (OME). Today “The Cell” celebrates its first birthday.

The ASCB was awarded a $2.5M stimulus grant in 2009 through NIH’s Grand Opportunities program to build a novel multi-dimensional image library of scientific images of cells and their constituents. This online resource of digital images was first made publicly available on August 9, 2010, and is freely available to multiple end users — researchers, clinicians, educators, students and the public–internationally. The library is available at and currently houses over 2,800 browsable images and over 4,000 total images. Submission of images to The Cell is open to the community, and the collection is growing rapidly.

During its first year The Cell has received over 62,000 visits by over 44,000 visitors. They have accessed over 292,000 page views. The Cell has also been named a finalist in The Scientist’s Labby Awards for best scientific website. Truly a worldwide resource, The Cell has been accessed from 157 countries. In addition, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services featured The Cell on its Recovery Act webpage.

The Cell library is an easily accessible public resource database of images, videos, and animations of cells from a variety of organisms. The purpose of this database is (1) to advance research on cellular activity with the ultimate goal of improving human health, and (2) to provide a public educational resource that contributes to the understanding of the wonders of the biology of living organisms.

As The Cell library evolves: (1) historically important archives of cellular microscopy image data are being uploaded, (2) dormant, off-line image data are being made available for review and re-discovery with modern microscopy analysis techniques, (3) a common image file format for biological research, OME-TIFF, is being further utilized, and (4) the foundation is being built for a systematic protocol for image uploading, evaluation and metadata-annotation.

Investigators from around the world have contributed image data-single frames, multi-dimensional stacks, and time lapse videos. The Cell library is at:

For more information, contact:

David Orloff
Manager, Image Library, The Cell
The American Society for Cell Biology
+1 301 347 9305

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