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The Colored Revolution of Bio-Imaging: New Opportunities for Signal Processing

M. Unser

Tutorial, Fourteenth European Signal Processing Conference (EUSIPCO'06), Firenze, Italian Republic, September 5-8, 2006.

During the past decade, biological imaging has undergone a revolution thanks to the development of highly specific fluorescent probes in conjunction with new high-resolution microscopes. Fluorescence microscopy is becoming widespread and is having a profound impact on the way research is being conducted in the life sciences. Biologists can now visualize sub-cellular components and processes in vivo, both structurally and functionally. Observations can be made in two or three dimensions, at different wavelengths (spectroscopy), possibly with time-lapse imaging to investigate cellular dynamics. Signal processing is at the heart of these developments and is expected to play an ever-increasing role in the field.

The goal of this tutorial is to introduce engineers to modern fluorescence microscopy while making them aware of corresponding research opportunities. The first part will cover the principles of fluorescence imaging, while the second will concentrate on signal processing aspects and challenges.

Part 1: Basics of Fluorescence Imaging

  • Fluorescence labeling: the green/colored revolution
  • Image formation: widefield and confocal microscopy; PSF
  • Detectors and limiting factors

Part 2: Signal Processing Challenges

  • Image preparation: calibration, feature detection
  • Restoration: denoising, 3D deconvolution, inverse problems
  • Registration and segmentation
  • Quantitative image analysis: motion; particle tracking; model fitting; classification


Michael Unser received the M.S. (summa cum laude) and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering in 1981 and 1984, respectively, from the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland. From 1985 to 1997, he worked as a scientist with the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda USA. He is now professor and Director of the Biomedical Imaging Group at the EPFL. His main research area is biomedical image processing. He has a strong interest in sampling theories, multiresolution algorithms, wavelets, the use of splines for image processing and is the author of over 120 published journal papers in these areas.

Dr. Unser is the associate Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging and the Editor-in-Chief of the Wavelet Digest, the electronic newsletter of the wavelet community. He was general chair for the first IEEE International Symposium on Biomedical Imaging (ISBI'2002), which was held in Washington, DC, July 7-10, 2002. He also chairs the newly created technical committee of the IEEE-SP Society on Bio Imaging and Signal Processing (BISP).

Dr. Unser is a fellow of the IEEE. He received the 1995 and 2003 Best Paper Awards and the 2000 Magazine Award from the IEEE Signal Processing Society.

AUTHOR="Unser, M.",
TITLE="The Colored Revolution of Bio-Imaging: {N}ew Opportunities for
        Signal Processing",
BOOKTITLE="Fourteenth {E}uropean Signal Processing Conference
address="Firenze, Italian Republic",
month="September 5-8,",

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