The Aim of the Imaging Core is to provide enabling technology in histology and microscopy for all five participants in this Developmental Biology COBRE.
Facility Overview. The Imaging Core is located in a 5,200 sq. ft. suite in OMRF’s new research tower. Sensitive instruments are housed in dedicated rooms built over a vibration-damping sub-floor (designed by Chad Himmel, P.E., of JEAcoustics) in the lowest level of the research tower. There is also optimized space for sample preparation, tissue sectioning and off-line computing. Sample preparation equipment includes two automated tissue processors, a paraffin embedding station, four microtomes, two cryostats, and an automatic coverslipper. There is also a cryo-ultramicrotome, a high-pressure freezer, slam freezers, freeze fracture equipment, a freeze substitution system and a sputter coater. Users have access to standard upright and inverted microscopes, two Zeiss LSM-based laser scanning confocal microscopes (a LSM510 and a LSM 710 (both with spectral unmixing capabilities and environmental chambers for live cell work)), a Hitachi H-7600 transmission electron microscope fitted with an AMT 2Kx2K ES 4.0 digital camera, a Zeiss TIRF microscope, a structured illumination microscope with Colibri LED illumination, and a newly acquired Zeiss LSM-710 intravital, multiphoton confocal microscope with a Becker and Hickl FLIM system and full physiological capabilities. The Imaging Core has recently obtained a “super-resolution” DeltaVision OMX-SR microscope. As the only super-resolution microscope in Oklahoma, this instrument provides fluorescent microscopy images with much higher resolution than is possible in conventional fluorescence microscopy through two methods: structured illumination microscopy or SIM, and single molecule localization microscopy or localization microscopy. These methods effectively double or quadruple the resolution of conventional microscopy and are applicable to a wide range of research approaches. Computer support includes a 3D deconvolution 1.6TB data server and a dual zeon 500 GB data server. There are also 3D deconvolution and data analysis workstations as well as extremely high resolution printers available for use. For additional details, please see the OMRF web site (imaging.omrf.org).
Staff. As Vice President of Research, Dr. Paul Kincade has primary administrative and scientific oversight of this Core. Mr. Ben Fowler has been Manager of the OMRF Imaging Core for over 10 years and is responsible for daily management and operation. Mr. Fowler has extensive experience in developing experimental protocols for fluorescence microscopy and electron microscopy, maintaining the full range of equipment within the Imaging Facility, and in managing the personnel and business aspects of the Core. There are a total of five full-time employees in this Core.
Training. Mr. Fowler and two of the other full-time technical staff in the facility have extensive experience in training new users to utilize the full suite of light and electron microscopy equipment, following teaching protocols that have been developed over the past ten years. Access to each instrument is controlled by key-card activated doors and log-in requirements for the operating software.
Maintenance. The microscopes are covered by service contracts and Mr. Fowler performs preventative maintenance and quality control procedures as needed. Mr. Flower and his staff are able to perform common minor repairs so that down time is minimized.
Organizational/Management Plan. Dr. Kincade and Mr. Fowler provide administrative oversight and daily management, respectively, of the Imaging Core. Prospective users are trained in the safe and effective use of individual microscopes by Core technicians and, when critical, by Mr. Fowler. Use of the instruments is then monitored by the appropriate Core personnel until the user is approved to operate the instrument independently, including after hours.
Time allocation. User reservations are regulated by an automated, web-based calendar system which is monitored throughout normal working hours by Core personnel.