Contributing to advances in medical and life sciences through synergies with universities and research institutions


Nikon Imaging Centers provide researchers with microscope systems and educational programs, and relay their feedback directly to Nikon for utilization in product development.

Nikon Imaging Centers - collaborative imaging facilities

Imaging technology is used to visualize information gathered from an observation sample. For the continued development of this technology, a collaborative process between industry and academia is indispensable. To this end, Nikon has partnered with major universities and research institutes in several countries to open imaging facilities, designated as Nikon Imaging Centers (NICs) at ten locations* worldwide.

  • *As of April, 2021.

NICs have the following four functions that support the varied objectives and goals of researchers.

  • 1. Provide access to the latest microscope systems*
  • 2. Offer training courses related to optical microscopes
  • 3. Share innovations related to optical microscopes and imaging technologies
  • 4. Secure dedicated human resources for continuous technical consultation and support
  • *Microscope systems include not only the microscopes, but also the related equipment such as lighting systems and cameras.

Nikon actively collects the opinions of researchers through NIC locations and applies them directly to inform product development for science, industry, medicine, and life sciences.

At NIC facilities, a director commissioned by a university/research institution or the Nikon Group manages the implementation of educational programs and the shared use of microscope systems lent by Nikon. Nikon utilizes the NIC environment for product demonstrations for customers. Furthermore, Nikon and the NICs collaborate with local universities and research institutes to carry out research and product evaluations.

The first NIC was established at Harvard Medical School in 2001 with other facilities subsequently opening elsewhere in the United States, as well as in Asia including Japan, and Europe. NICs support the development of imaging technology for each region. For an overview of each NIC location, refer to Imaging Centers established by Nikon Instruments Inc.Open in a new window

Nikon Imaging Center at Harvard Medical School - supporting researchers by providing an advanced microscope usage environment and educational programs

The Nikon Imaging Center at Harvard Medical School (NIC@HMS) located in Boston, Massachusetts, is a Cell Biology Department, Systems Biology Department, and Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology Department core facility for advanced light microscopy. The NIC@HMS provides an advanced microscope usage environment for those fields of research, and educational programs for in-depth application to projects and research studies for various users. The NIC@HMS also supports this research and facilitates new scientific discoveries.

Jennifer Waters, Ph.D.
Director & Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Imaging Scientist
Dr. Waters directs the imaging core facility at Harvard Medical School, teaches light microscopy courses in graduate programs, and evaluates microscopy instruments and modalities.

Jennifer Waters, Ph.D. of Harvard Medical School (hereinafter, Dr. Waters) has been directing the NIC@HMS since it first opened in 2001. She also has extensive experience teaching imaging techniques to a wide range of research scientists. She explains how mentoring plays such a crucial role in her directorial duties at the NIC@HMS.

“Many people are drawn to the field because we operate these complicated, fun instruments that generate beautiful images. But that process is different than being driven to have a deep understanding of how the images are formed through all the different components of the microscope.”

Advancing online educational programs

Most of the NIC@HMS users are post-doctoral fellows who have finished their Ph.D. and are in the process of training. In addition, NIC assists between 200 and 250 graduate students, technicians and visiting faculty members, as well as 200 academic research scientists each year.

“I think the biggest impact we have on basic research is that many of the people who come to use the microscopes at the center don’t have any other access to microscopes. Or they’re trying to do an experiment using a microscope and it’s not working for some reason that they can’t figure out,” Dr. Waters explains. “So they come to us, and we can help them do an experiment that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to handle or we can help them do it much faster, and probably in a more rigorous way, than they would otherwise, because we advise people on controls and such.” It is in these ways that the NICs contribute to enhance basic research.

Dr. Waters and her team have transformed the educational program that was offered through the NIC for many years into a remote educational program.

Dr. Waters notes, “It’s not something that I would previously have ever thought to do, but it’s been fantastic. So, we’re now imagining that we could use these remote formats to offer education internationally - more than just releasing videos of our lectures, we’re looking for ways to allow for some further discussion and support.”

Dr. Waters giving a lecture.

High-throughput, large field of view, ECLIPSE Ti2-EOpen in a new window system optimized for imaging and processing slides.

Synergies generated at NICs

Dr. Waters explains the contribution that the NIC@HMS has made to science, “There have been many discoveries made at the center throughout my tenure at the NIC@HMS. Naturally, not all research goes on to win the Nobel Prize. However, collectively the experiments move the field forward, and even small, incremental advancements are greatly valued.” She provides insight into how important it is to have the vast number of experiments conducted at NIC@HMS play an important part in that progress.

Nikon has provided new equipment and software for Dr. Waters and her team to test and provide feedback on during developmental stages. This valuable feedback was then utilized to improve and develop new products.

OutlookCreating innovative contributions towards everyday well-being through dedication to medical and life science research

The Nikon Imaging Centers support innovative research in the fields of medical and life sciences along with the creation of new industries through a mutually beneficial synergy - a vital component to such a collaboration between industry and academia.

By effectively utilizing the information shared by researchers, Nikon Imaging Centers will continue to facilitate the advancement of medical and life sciences.

Related SDGs

  • 3 Good Health and Well-Being
  • 9 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

SDGs: Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, the international community adopted a set of targets for sustainable development, to be achieved by 2030. The 17 global goals address issues such as poverty, hunger, education and climate change.