Glasgow Life Sciences

Glasgow Life Sciences is a project housed in ARC XR that builds 3D models, animations and VR games using data derived from laser scanning microscopes. Funded by MVLS/BBSRC Engagement & Proximity to Discovery Awards (£30k), this project involves the curation of 3D data to build a publicly accessible data archive. The project is led by Dr Craig Daly, with previous contributions from Annabel Slater. The project continues to grow and is now run solely by Dr Daly.

Objectives of the project

The Glasgow Life Sciences project was created out of the recognition that within MVLS there was a potentially very large archive of 3D data that was unused or finished with and not curated. These data come from laser scanning microscopes and other 3D imaging devices. Users/Researchers will typically collect far more data than is used and often a 3D dataset may be rejected because it does not contain every feature the researcher was looking for. However, the data could be repurposed for other research, teaching or public engagement. The Glasgow Life Sciences project aims to repurpose the unused data to take University of Glasgow research into virtual worlds. 

The funding enabled the team to contact multiple research groups in MVLS to ask if they would contribute 3D data sets of biological samples that could be brought together as a data archive. Dr Daly would process the 3D models and mount them within a suitable, publicly available, database. There are now 49 models available for viewing and/or download on Sketchfab, the chosen platform to showcase the project.  The Glasgow Life Science project promotes imaging-based research, makes accurate 3D models, VR scenes and 3D prints from confocal data. The collection continues to grow and can be accessed at the Glasgow Life Sciences (@GLS) Sketchfab.

The impact

The Glasgow Life Sciences project and publicly available 3D data collection are one of a kind. At the beginning of 2019 there were very few (if any) useful 3D models for Life Science related research and teaching. Collaboration is at the heart of the project with most models created by 3D artists. 

There is untapped potential for the project to progress and the opportunities to curate further 3D models are endless. Dr Daly says, “We believe we have only scratched the surface with this project and that there is a rich seam of 3D data that has yet to be mined both locally and externally”.

The collection is now being used for the creation of teaching lessons and interactive games. Models from the GLS collection have featured in VR lessons created with EDIFY, EON XR and in a VR Cell Physiology game. Dr Daly believes that very soon a market will open up for these digital assets for use in a variety of applications.  There is even a relatively new financial trading market for NFTs that could be explored. 

VR Data Gallery Comprising GLS models

Photorealistic renderings of two GLS datasets