American Association of Anatomists Launches Virtual Microscopy Database powered by Biolucida

Free resource for educators and researchers features thousands of downloadable histology slides

Educators and researchers around the world now have free access to a database of whole slide images (also known as virtual slides) for histology and pathology. Featuring thousands of virtual slides contributed by 15 universities, The Virtual Microscopy Database, VMD, ( is an online resource that allows educators to view and download virtual images and share their own.

Powered by MBF Bioscience‘s Biolucida® for Medical Education solution, VMD gives educators an overview of individual slides and allows examination of various parts of the image at magnifications up to 40x. The users can take a screenshot or download the file at any time.

Funded by an Innovations Program Grant awarded by the American Association of Anatomists (AAA), the resource was developed by researchers from the University of Colorado, Drexel University College of Medicine, and the University of Michigan with corporate support from MBF Bioscience. With thousands of freely accessible virtual microscopy images, the VMD helps meet a growing need for better access to histology slides among educators and non-profit research organizations. The AAA foresees the images being used in a variety of educational ways such as for lectures, exams, and for creating supplementary course material as well as for non-profit research initiatives.

Collection of Virtual Slides in the Biolucida Viewer

“The greatest strength of the VMD is the availability of a large number of high quality virtual microscopy images to its users. The diversity and multiple examples of histological variations available in the VMD collections will enable histology and pathology educators to elevate the quality of their teaching by exposing their students to a broader variety of images and by experimenting with new pedagogical techniques in their classrooms.” (Lisa Lee, Ph.D., University of Colorado)

“We are proud to be part of the AAA’s efforts to improve the access of histology and pathology digital slides for medical educators and students by providing the underlying technology for this important resource. Any of the virtual slides in this new resource can be downloaded and used on an organization’s Biolucida on-premise or cloud-based server,” says Jack Glaser, president of MBF Bioscience.

Individuals affiliated with educational or research institutions may register to access the database. Once approved, users can browse files, or search for specific types of tissue. Currently, the VMD site includes over 2,600 virtual microscopy files, but as new users join the VMD file sharing community that number will grow as will the diversity of tissue and species type.

About AAA:

The American Association of Anatomists was founded by Joseph Leidy in Washington, D.C. in 1888 for the “advancement of anatomical science.” Today, via research, education, and professional development activities, AAA serves as the professional home for an international community of biomedical researchers and educators focusing on the structural foundation of health and disease.

About MBF Bioscience:

MBF Bioscience produces advanced microscopy imaging and analysis systems for biomedical research and education. The award-winning company was co-founded in 1988 by Edmund and Jack Glaser.


Nathan O’Connor, Ph.D.

Product Manager/Technical Sales


Popular open access virtual slide collection has a new home

We are happy to announce that Biolucida, our learning management software, is now hosting the Iowa Virtual Slidebox. This vast repository of digitized tissue specimens is open to the public and is free of charge. Virtual slides in this collection are used by educators around the world to teach histopathology and histology.


“Educators and students will now have easier and quicker access to virtual slides from the Iowa Virtual Slidebox,” said Dr. Nathan O’Connor, Biolucida product manager. “In addition, MBF can offer fully annotated versions of these slides that highlight specific structures or areas of interest within the specimens.”

The collection was curated by Fred Dee, MD, a pathologist at the University of Iowa who is a pioneer in using virtual slides for medical education. “We created this virtual slide collection with a grant from the National Library of Medicine to provide an efficient open source alternative for histology and histopathology course directors around the world, as traditional laboratory based glass slide microscopy was beginning to disappear from curricula,” said Dr. Dee. “The Iowa Virtual Slidebox has been hosted by MBF Bioscience since 2001. We are extremely pleased that MBF Bioscience will continue that tradition with their new Biolucida software.”

Biolucida is a learning platform that uses virtual slides  ̶  high-resolution digital images of tissue specimens  ̶  to simulate the experience of using a light microscope, complete with the ability to focus in z through specimens. It supports images that are hundreds of gigabytes in size, and it is web-based so educators and students can view the slides from any computer with an internet connection.

To download the app and view the Iowa Collection on Biolucida at full resolution, free of charge, please fill out this short form.

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