The Virtual Microscopy Database—Sharing Digital Microscope Images For Research and Education-ASE article
Member Lisa M.J. Lee, Ph.D, of the University of Colorado and coauthors, describe the development of the world’s largest resource sharing database for anatomical sciences educators, researchers, and clinicians in their article recently published in Anatomical Sciences Education.
The authors note that over the last 20 years, virtual microscopy has become the predominant modus of teaching the structural organization of cells, tissues, and organs, replacing the use of optical microscopes and glass slides in a traditional histology or pathology laboratory setting. Although virtual microscopy image files can easily be duplicated, creating them requires not only quality histological glass slides but also an expensive whole slide microscopic scanner and massive data storage devices. These resources are not available to all educators and researchers, especially at new institutions in developing countries. This leaves many schools without access to virtual microscopy resources. The Virtual Microscopy Database (VMD) solves this problem.
A grant award from the Innovations Program by the American Association of Anatomists funded the creation of the VMD - a virtual image file‐sharing website that allows researchers and educators easy access to a more than 2,600 images of virtual histology and pathology image files donated by educators and researchers from 15 different universities. The VMD webpage was designed as an intuitive user interface for signup, login, access to the VMD content, and for uploading and downloading virtual microscopy image files. The VMD website was also seamlessly integrated with the database management and virtual slide viewer software, donated by MBF Bioscience Inc.
Since launching in April 2017, the VMD has over 550 registered users from 62 different countries around the world. The majority of VMD users have a college or university affiliation and a few are associated with scientific foundations or museums.
The authors conclude that with global demand for such resources only increasing, the VMD holds a great potential for elevating the quality of histology and pathology instruction and making these subjects more accessible to students at educational institutions worldwide.