User Policy

User policy.

You do not need to be a BIU user to get help from us - we provide imaging consultation to everybody, within the limits of our resources. Also, if the BIU does not have suitable equipment for your needs, we may be able to direct you elsewhere.

Choosing an instrument or application

If you are not sure which instrument and/or application to use for your imaging needs, first browse through the Instruments page, and then contact the BIU staff. We are happy to organize a meeting to discuss the options available.

BIU Policy

Access and User fees

All BIU instruments are available for all users. Every user is expected to be familiar with the BIU user policy stated on this page.

All instruments are charged by the hour. The fees are shown on the User Fees page.

Project based access

All instrument access is based on projects, where the project determines who (which account) is charged for the use. Before you can gain access to the instruments, register your imaging project in the Open IRIS reservation system (for instructions, see our wiki) and arrange a project meeting with our staff. Prepare a short presentation (ca. 5 min) about your project for the meeting. We will then discuss the specifics and help you find the best instrument and analysis method for your needs.

An active project is needed for access and the default duration for a project is one year. After that time the project should be updated, although if it will be finished soon we can extend it for a few months.

If you start a new project (image something different or want to charge another account), you should register it on Open IRIS.

Training and user license

For all BIU instruments, there is compulsory initial training given by a BIU staff member, which qualifies you for the user license to that instrument. The training takes usually two hours. Users that already have a confocal microscope user license, and who want to start using another confocal, will have a shorter training session of one hour. The total fee for the training session is calculated according to the hourly instrument fee. There is no extra charge for the user license. After the training, you can make reservations for that particular instrument and use the equipment independently. You will also get information about maintenance breaks etc. through the instrument users' mailing list.

For Imaging Workstations, attendance in a training session is not mandatory. However, if you would like to have the training, BIU staff will give you a training session for your particular needs.

Contact BIU when you want to have training. You need to bring your own samples to the training session. Also, you should have a user account for the University of Helsinki computers. If you don't, please inform us before coming to the training.

As some of the instruments are heavily booked, we may not be able to give you the training right away. You can see current reservations for each instrument in the online reservation system (Open IRIS).

Additional, customised training is available for all instruments at any time. Troubleshooting for all instruments is free of charge.

Microscope lab access rights

After your first training, you will get booking rights to the instrument in question. If you plan to use the microscopes outside office hours please make sure you have the required access rights to the areas where the instruments are located. If you need to access the BIU instruments outside office hours when the building and/or the appropriate area are locked, please contact us well in advance. In particular, anyone not regularly working at Biomedicum 1 will need additional access rights to the building in the evenings and weekends.


For all instruments maintained by the BIU, the online reservation system is used.

BIU reservations page has the links to the reservation system, as well as the instructions on how to create a new user account, and how to make reservations.

Instrument hours will be billed according to the reservations made. If you need to cancel or modify your reservation, it has to be done 24 hours prior to the reserved time.

Use of any BIU microscope without reservation is prohibited. BIU will occasionally check lab entrance and/or computer login/out times. If they do not match with the time reserved, there will be a double fee for the time the instrument was used without a reservation.

Mailing lists

When you get reservation rights for a certain instrument, you will automatically be added to the mailing list of that instrument. BIU uses the mailing lists for informing the users of any changes in the instrument, breakdowns and other problems etc. If you want your name to be removed from the mailing list, your reservation rights for the corresponding instrument will also be cancelled.

BIU computers

To gain access to the imaging workstations and some of the computers that control the instruments, you must have a valid HY-AD user account. When you log into a BIU workstation computer, use the same user name and password that you use to access the other University of Helsinki services.

BIU reserves the right to monitor computers and software usage in all computers that are under BIU administration.

If transferring the data over the network is not possible, you may temporarily store images on our microscope computers while imaging, and then transfer the images into a USB stick or external hard drive. Remember to delete the locally stored data after the transfer. As the instrument computers do not have any backup system, we do not take any responsibility for possible data loss in case of computer breakdown. BIU holds the right to delete any user files when a hard drive is filling up. We will try to delete the oldest files first and notify the users before deletion.

It is your own responsibility to take care of data transfer and secure storage (storage device with a backup system or storage of data in at least two physically separate locations).

You can view and analyse your images on our Imaging workstations and there is free software for viewing/analysis which you can install on your own computers.

Publications and acknowledgements

Please note that if you have used any of the BIU instruments or services for your publication, you are expected to mention BIU in the Acknowledgements and inform BIU about your publication. We have a template on our wiki pages to help you report the important microscopy parameters in your publication and a very basic suggestion for acknowledgement. Please note that these are templates only and are not suitable for all situations. You should modify both to cover all important points in your experiment. A very general acknowledgemnt would be something like:

Imaging was performed at the Biomedicum Imaging Unit, the University of Helsinki, supported by the Helsinki Institute of Life Science (HiLIFE) and Biocenter Finland.

Problems and troubleshooting

In case of a problem with any of the instruments, first, check the User Guide (if available) for help. If that does not solve the problem, contact BIU staff to inform us about the problem - we will take care of it as soon as possible.

Virus-infected microscope specimens

If you want to image virus-infected specimens, follow the BIU guidelines for handling virus-infected microscope specimens. You can also download the instructions from the end of this page. (Updated February 2015).

Misuse of the instruments

In case the user misuses BIU equipment, her/his user license may be revoked and the repair costs may be charged.

How to contact us

The best way to contact BIU is to send us an email. Use this address instead of personal e-mail addresses, since the whole staff reads the mail and we can respond more quickly.

Instrument policies

Zeiss LSM 780, LSM 880, LSM 7 MP, Leica SP8, SP8 X and Nikon Ec­lipse TiE

If you are the last user of the day and you leave the lasers and/or lamp on, you will be charged for the whole time the lasers are on.

Zeiss Axio Im­agers

If you are the last user of the day and your reservation ends at or after 4pm and you leave the lamp on, you will be charged for the whole time the lamp is on.

All BIU in­stru­ments

If you are using any of the BIU instrument during weekend/holiday/outside office hours and you leave the lasers or lamps on, you will be charged for the whole time the lasers/lamps are on.

Use without a re­ser­va­tion

Use without a reservation is prohibited. BIU will occasionally check room entrance and/or computer log in/out times. If they do not match with the time reserved, there will be a double fee for the time the instrument was used without a reservation.

In­stru­ment is not work­ing

If there is a technical problem with the equipment that clearly affects its use, there will be no charge, provided that you inform BIU about the problem within a reasonable time.