New scientific and engineering advancements are constantly enhancing the quality and complexity of imaging tools available to solve key biological challenges. Consequently, biological and biomedical scientists now have at their disposal a wide range of imaging devices at all levels of biological organisation, from molecules to the whole animal.
Imaging has the capability to provide an enormous amount of information, hence recent moves to cell based assays in high throughput drug screening and the increasing use of in vivo imaging modalities in diagnostics. In order to fully realise this potential and make new substantial and significant developments in the imaging sciences, leading edge researchers must both understand the physical basis and current limitations of these technologies, and have a sound understanding of key biological questions to be addressed.
With the rapid growth of bio-technology companies and other bioscience and healthcare businesses, there is an increasing need for talented multidisciplinary researchers with the knowledge and understanding to produce and operate innovative imaging tools, and analyse the image data produced with an appreciation of the life science and health problems that are being addressed. This same need is apparent in industries with wider business activities.
As exemplars, Smith and Nephew employ researchers dedicated specifically to imaging their tissue engineered products and implant materials; QinetiQ have a team dedicated to biomedical imaging which ranges from molecular probe development to MRI; GE Healthcare and PE Life Sciences have businesses focused specifically on imaging. Such large companies and existing local SMEs are potential beneficiaries and their need for PhD graduates with such a training is reflected by their direct involvement in the PSIBS DTC.
As the power of imaging techniques and methodologies progresses, and as yet more knowledge-based industries emerge in response to national and regional initiatives, it is inevitable that the current demand for such multidisciplinary scientists in both industry and academia will rise still further.