The imaging sciences have revolutionized biomedical research by providing a means to see the inside of cells, tissues, and even whole organisms allowing structure and function to be interrogated and in many cases, permitting biologic events to be watched as they unfold. In biologic imaging, the light and electron microscopes are the primary tools, allowing studies at subcellular resolution. Such imaging studies, however, are largely confined to small organisms or studies at the level of excised or cultured cells. The advent of confocal and multiphoton microscopy, with biologically sensitive fluorescent probes, has further extended the range of measurements in terms of cell function and has led to improved spatial resolution and increased depth penetration in tissue. Cryoelectron microscopy together with powerful 3D reconstruction algorithms have allowed the structure of important macromolecular assemblies to be defined. Many opportunities exist to further improve the sensitivity, resolution, and quantitative ability of these imaging techniques, to reduce their cost, and to make them more accessible to biomedical researchers across a broad spectrum of research areas.
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