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The solution of many modern biomedical problems depends on the availability of non-destructive characterization of biological structures and function, and on the availability of an advanced understanding of the molecular processes involved.

Imaging modalities have been named by physicians as the inventions of highest significance; in fact three out of the top five advances have been linked to imaging-based advances, with computer tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) taking the lead. Undoubtedly modern healthcare has strongly benefited from the advances in imaging technology, such as X-ray, ultrasound, computed tomography, positron emission tomography and magnetic resonance imaging; and associated disciplines, such as fluorescence microscopy, fluorescent proteins, electron microscopy and X-ray chrystallography in fundamental research.

Coordinating the competences in Switzerland will establish the country as a world-wide leader in imaging science with the added benefit of making such developments immediately available to biomedical research, thereby enhancing the competitiveness of biomedical research at the same time.

The Center was instigated by the ETH Domain as an initiative in biomedical imaging in the second half of 2006. Four calls were launched (in 2007, 2008, 2010  and 2011) asking for proposals for doctoral fellowships in imaging science for biology and medicine requiring an advisor from EPFL and co-advisor from ETHZ or vice-versa, or one advisor can be from PSI without formal affiliation with either of the two. The ultimate goal of the Center is to increase collegiality and collaborations within the ETH Domain, and to integrate collaborations with other Swiss Institutes and Hospitals.