Empowering team science

3 things you may have missed during abrf 2020
Published on the 20 February 2020

Over 860 people, coming from genomics, imaging or proteomics fields, have met to collaborate and to open a discussion between core leadership, technology and scientific research, resulting in interesting outputs.

The annual meeting of the Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities (ABRF) was held in California, beginning of March 2020. This year edition was dedicated to finding the right path to enable and ease the collaboration between platforms and between fields.

1. “Empowering Team Science 101: Enabling Reproducible Outcomes Across Diverse Technologies”


Being a team is possible only if we understand what’s going on in the other cores. Historically, academic departmental divisions may have limited the mingling with other fields, along with a silent competition for a often-too-rare funding1.

"Being a team is possible only if we understand what’s going on in the other cores"

Four specialists, in the fields of Imaging microscopy, cytometry, biology and genomics gathered to provide a comprehensive session on the specialty of their fields. The aim was to get a shared understanding of the other fields: what does this field do? What are the constraints? What are the new developments? How does it work in a Core Facilities? What are the interfaces to other technology?

As Elke Küster-Schöck, Manager of an imaging core, concluded, this is the era “Not [of] silos but open doors to other technologies.” .

2. Journals, ABRF and You: Addressing Rigor and Reproducibility

Core scientists and journal editors are key players in the solution of the reproducibility crisis.

Researchers may find difficult to know which parameters to record and share. Due to a lack of training and awareness, it is common to see inaccurate descriptions about reagents and methods used to perform the experiments. This is where editors have a role to play2.

“Accuracy must supersede aesthetics.”

Several journals, such as Current Protocols, Plos One, Journal of Cell Biology or Cell Press presented the efforts they made to encourage the authors to provide their experimental conditions. The aim of this session was to develop concrete collaborations to improve the reproducibility and transparency of published research. As one of the participants stated, “Accuracy must supersede aesthetics”.

An example of the publishers’ efforts towards rigor and reproducibility is the STAR Methods format (Structured, Transparent, Accessible Reporting). Introduced in 2016 by Cell Press, it provides a comprehensive guide on what data to provide when submitting a paper: material, data and code, precise details on experimental design…

Find it here: https://marlin-prod.literatumonline.com/pb-assets/journals/research/cell/methods/Methods%20Guide.pdf

3. ABRF, home of the Light Microscopy Research Group (LMRG)


The hallmark of ABRF are the ABRF sponsored multi-site Research Group studies.

For more than 10 years, the Light Microscopy Research Group (LMRG) has promoted quality assurance testing for modern optical imaging systems. Previouly chaired by Richard Cole (Director of the Light Microscopy Core at Wadsworth Center), and currently by Kristopher Kubow (Director of Microscopy and Imaging at the James Madison University), the LMRG mission is “to promote scientific exchange between researchers, specifically those in core facilities in order to increase our general knowledge and experience. We seek to provide a forum for multi-site experiments exploring “standards” for the field of light microscopy.” Claire Brown and Richard Cole, active members of the LMRG, have produced quality content and advices for the community throughout the years.

A recent LMRG study was an international test for objective lens quality, resolution, spectral accuracy and spectral separation for confocal laser scanning microscopes3.

Read the results of the study here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24103552

With relevant topics and good opportunities for discussion, ABRF annual meeting is a good event for Core Imaging Facility directors to network and share ideas in a collegial environment.


(1) Nat Biotechnol 34, 357 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/nbt.3544 https://www.nature.com/articles/nbt.3544.

(2) G. Marques, T. Pengo, and M. Sanders, « Imaging in Biomedical Research: An Essential Tool with No Instructions », February 2020.

(3) R.W Cole, and al., “International test results for objective lens quality, resolution, spectral accuracy and spectral separation for confocal laser scanning microscopes”, Microsc Microanal.;19(6):1653-68, Dec 2019, doi: 10.1017/S1431927613013470.

Header photo by The Climate Reality Project on Unsplash
Share This