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In the pursuit of advancing our understanding of biological processes, the LABS team, led by Professor Francesco Pavone, has been pioneering the development of fast volumetric imaging techniques, particularly focusing on zebrafish models. This innovative approach promises to enhance how researchers capture and analyse dynamic biological events in real-time. We sat down with Professor Pavone to delve deeper into the impact and intricacies of this fascinating field of study.


Professor Pavone, could you explain what fast volumetric imaging entails and why zebrafish are an ideal model for this research?

Fast volumetric imaging is a technique that allows us to capture three-dimensional images of living organisms at high speeds and with exceptional resolution. Zebrafish are particularly suited for this type of imaging due to their translucency and the rapid development of their organs, which makes them excellent models for studying developmental biology and disease progression.

What are some of the key challenges you face in this area of research, and how does your team address them?

One of the primary challenges is maintaining the balance between speed, resolution, and the health of the biological specimen during imaging. We use custom-built light-sheet microscopes, which minimize light exposure and preserve the specimen’s health while providing the high-resolution images necessary for our analyses.

Can you share a recent breakthrough or an exciting project your team is working on in fast volumetric imaging?

Recently, we’ve made significant progress in imaging neural activity in zebrafish. By developing faster imaging techniques, we can now observe how neural networks form and operate in real-time. This is crucial for understanding not just basic neural functions but also for modelling how diseases affect neural pathways.

How do you see this technology evolving in the next few years, and what implications might it have for broader scientific research?

I believe that the future of fast volumetric imaging lies in its integration with other technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. These integrations can significantly enhance our ability to analyse large datasets quickly and with greater accuracy, leading to faster scientific discoveries and more precise medical diagnostics.

For aspiring scientists and researchers interested in this field, what skills or knowledge should they focus on developing?

A strong foundation in optics and imaging technologies is crucial. Additionally, computational skills are becoming increasingly important, as data analysis plays a critical role in interpreting the vast amounts of data generated by modern imaging techniques. A passion for interdisciplinary research and collaboration is also vital.