Deep learning for cellular image analysis

Nat Methods. 2019 Dec;16(12):1233-1246. doi: 10.1038/s41592-019-0403-1. Epub 2019 May 27.


Recent advances in computer vision and machine learning underpin a collection of algorithms with an impressive ability to decipher the content of images. These deep learning algorithms are being applied to biological images and are transforming the analysis and interpretation of imaging data. These advances are positioned to render difficult analyses routine and to enable researchers to carry out new, previously impossible experiments. Here we review the intersection between deep learning and cellular image analysis and provide an overview of both the mathematical mechanics and the programming frameworks of deep learning that are pertinent to life scientists. We survey the field's progress in four key applications: image classification, image segmentation, object tracking, and augmented microscopy. Last, we relay our labs' experience with three key aspects of implementing deep learning in the laboratory: annotating training data, selecting and training a range of neural network architectures, and deploying solutions. We also highlight existing datasets and implementations for each surveyed application.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Deep Learning*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence