NIH Image

NIH Image, developed by the National Institute of Health, is a powerful tool that can be used to enhance images for graphical analysis of data.  This software is very useful in conducting microbiology studies as images of cell cultures and electrophoresis gels can be enhanced, animated, and measured with great accuracy.  

Why would I want to use NIH Image?

How does NIH Image work?
According to the NIH Home Page, NIH Image allows for:

  • Image constrast enhancement
  • Density profiling
  • Smoothing and sharpening of images
  • Measurement of area, perimeter, etc. of a defined region
  • Particle analysis
  • Measurement of path lengths and angles

An image to be manipulated in NIH Image can either be a TIFF, PICT, PICS, or MacPaint file, and the image should be digitized at a resolution of 72 dpi.  The greatest aspect of NIH is that its image analysis allows for features of an image to be measured that would be inaccurate or nearly impossible using traditional methods.  An example of how NIH does just this is in performing a density slice on a plate of bacteria colonies.  Once the image is opened on the screen, the area of the plate should be outlined using the circle tool, and using Analyze/Set Scale... an actual measurement can be assigned to the pixel length.  Density slicing can then be activated to determine the actual area of the bacteria colonies on the plate.  This measurement would be almost impossible by hand, but is easily conducted with NIH as a real-life measurement can be assigned to pixels on a computer screen.

The following will help you through your NIH Image experience:

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