Global Pixel Transformers for Virtual Staining of Microscopy Images.
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Visualizing the details of different cellular structures is of great importance to elucidate cellular functions. However, it is challenging to obtain high quality images of different structures directly due to complex cellular environments. Fluorescence staining is a popular technique to label different structures but has several drawbacks. In particular, label staining is time consuming and may affect cell morphology, and simultaneous labels are inherently limited. This raises the need of building computational models to learn relationships between unlabeled microscopy images and labeled fluorescence images, and to infer fluorescence labels of other microscopy images excluding the physical staining process. We propose to develop a novel deep model for virtual staining of unlabeled microscopy images. We first propose a novel network layer, known as the global pixel transformer layer, that fuses global information from inputs effectively. The proposed global pixel transformer layer can generate outputs with arbitrary dimensions, and can be employed for all the regular, down-sampling, and up-sampling operators. We then incorporate our proposed global pixel transformer layers and dense blocks to build an U-Net like network. We believe such a design can promote feature reusing between layers. In addition, we propose a multi-scale input strategy to encourage networks to capture features at different scales. We conduct evaluations across various fluorescence image prediction tasks to demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach. Both quantitative and qualitative results show that our method outperforms the state-of-the-art approach significantly. It is also shown that our proposed global pixel transformer layer is useful to improve the fluorescence image prediction results.