Core Connection: Light Microscopy and Digital Imaging

May 23, 2018 | by Katie Neith

Microscopes have been the backbone of many scientific experiments since at least the 1600s, but as technology rapidly progresses, these instruments become more complex and harder to use. Nonetheless, microscopes, paired with advanced digital imaging techniques, remain critical tools for biomedical research, disease diagnostics, and in tracking the body’s response to treatment therapies. They are also necessary for producing quality images for journal submissions and grant proposals.
But keeping up with the latest imaging technologies requires both human and financial capital, meaning that many individual laboratories lack the means to sufficiently maintain advanced microscopy and imaging capabilities. At City of Hope, that’s where the Light Microscopy Digital Imaging (LM) Core can step in to help by giving researchers the ability to acquire publication-quality digital images.
“We couple the best equipment available with advanced technical expertise to accomplish experimental paradigms that include live-cell, Confocal and 2-photon imaging as well as advanced quantification of digital images,” said Brian Armstrong, Ph.D., associate research professor and director of the LM Core at Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope. “Last year we assisted 95 principal investigators and over 275 independent users. There were numerous publications and grant proposals that included images acquired at the core facility.”
Armstrong and his colleagues offer a wide variety of support for investigators whose research and education efforts require high-quality imagery and comprehensive services. Located in the Monrovia Research Center, the research-grade facility has the latest platforms for automated microscopy experiments, advanced observation techniques, and sophisticated digital image processing and analysis. A team of researchers and technicians is comprised of experienced specialists who can provide onboarding and instruction, while also working as consulting practitioners. Skilled guidance is offered in general aspects of light and confocal microscopy, general aspects of digital imaging and image analysis, and in operation of Light Microscopy Digital Imaging Core equipment.
Equipment in the LM Core includes an array of widefield, confocal and 2-photon microscopes. The high-end imaging workstations are fully outfitted with software for 3D rendering, quantification and analysis.
“In addition, we recently added two techniques that are at the cutting edge of imaging science,” said Armstrong. “First, we have a Zeiss LSM 880 laser scanning microscope with Airyscan Superresolution that can image small structures and live cells at twice the resolution of confocal imaging and at speeds not previous possible. We also have one of only nine Hyperion CyTOF imaging cytometers in North America, which means we can acquire images with as many as 27 different metal tags linked to antibodies. This multiplexed imaging technique will allow an understanding of the complexity of the tumor microenvironment that we could not achieve before.”
And while the suite of instruments skews toward helping researchers, Armstrong points out another key group of people that benefits from the LM Core facilities.
“In addition to providing a vast array of services for our researchers, physicians also use our core to get the high-resolution imaging data that can help in their treatment of cancer and other diseases,” he notes.

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