Microscopy & Bioimaging: Advanced Light Microscopy
Introduction to the Facility
The state of the art Bioimaging and Microscopy research and teaching facility in the Department of Biosciences is at the core of the Durham Centre for Bioimaging Technology and houses an extensive selection of imaging modalities which are available for use by staff, postgraduate students and final year undergraduate students as well as other University departments and commercial clients. Advanced light microscopy technologies can address many scientific questions including localisation, nanoscopy, subcellular architecture, phenotyping, tracking, gene expression, changes in chemical environment, protein:protein interactions & membrane dynamics. The facility is managed by Dr Tim Hawkins, supported by Joanne Robson.
Imaging technologies available include Super-Resolution microscopy; Structured Illumination (3D-SIM) and localisation microscopy (PALM/STORM), Confocal Laser Scanning Confocal Microscopy (CLSM), Spinning Disk Confocal Laser Microscopy (SDCLM), Total Internal Reflection Fluorescence Microscopy (TIRFM), Deconvolution Microscopy, Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging Microscopy (FLIM) and Fluorescence Cross Correlation Spectroscopy (FCCS). In addition to these the facility also has a range of widefield and stereo microscopes and microinjection equipment. Following an introduction to all imaging modalities and facilities available, users receive a focussed one to one training session on the modality or modalities which they require for their research program. Sessions contain theory, instrument running, code of practice/best practice and full acquisition support. Users can then use the systems alone but full support is provided when necessary. Facility staff will also advise on choice of imaging modality best suited to the biological question to be studied as well as help with experimental design. Services include, imaging of researcher supplied samples and sample preparation, in particular for SRM.
Working with us
The facility team are very enthusiastic and knowledgeable about imaging technologies and will support researchers with all their imaging requirements. Staff will also provide guidance in choice of imaging modality and experimental design. We love a challenge and enjoy applying combinations of modalities to probe novel systems and samples.
New research staff / users receive a facility induction session where they will be given an introduction to all of the imaging modalities and facilities available. Following this the user will then receive a focussed one to one training session on the modality or modalities which they require for their research program. This session will contain theory, instrument operation, code of practice/best practice and full acquisition support. Users can then use the systems alone but full support is provided when necessary. Facility staff will also advise on choice of imaging modality best suited to the biological question to be studied as well as help with experimental design to ensure a productive and efficient imaging session. Services include, imaging of researcher supplied samples and sample preparation, in particular for SRM. Durham postgraduate students also can attend an Advanced Light Microscopy seminar providing an overview of the imaging technologies available and importantly the theory behind them. On completion of a training session the new user will be provided with a summary document detailing key points for the safe usage of the equipment and the settings required for image capture.
Facility staff will provide guidance in choice of imaging modality and experimental design. Services are available for both internal researchers, other universities and commercial partners and include, imaging of researcher supplied samples and sample preparation, in particular for SRM. The facility provides a range of flexible service packages for external collaborators consisting of programme design, sample preparation, full sample imaging and data analysis. For service packages in addition to system access charges, charges will be made for SEO or technician time where appropriate
Collaborative research (working within Research Institutes, (Interdisciplinary), links with Academics, joint funding)
The SBBS Bioimaging and microscopy core facility is at the heart of the Durham Centre for Bioimaging Technology and work closely groups from (DCCIT) and the (BSI). The facility has a interdisciplinary user base with, in addition to biologists, users from chemistry, physics, mathematics, engineering and external partners.
Microscopy & Bioimaging: Electron Microscopy
Introduction to the Facility
We have a unique EM facility offering a broad range of techniques that can answer many biological (and other) questions.
Conventional TEM is generally straightforward and can give new insight into the effects of chemicals, drugs and mutations at the molecular, cell and tissue levels. Immuno-gold TEM is now established in the facility and is a natural, but underused progression, from the immuno-fluorescence and confocal microscopy that many of you do. This of course will directly tell you exactly where in a cell your antigen is within a few nanometers. Double labelling can also be done. TEM can also be used to study the structure and conformation of isolated proteins and complexes. 3D information can be gained by EM tomography and other methods.
We also have the highest resolution SEM in the world, unique to a biology department in the UK. This will give you sub-nanometre resolution images of surfaces. We can also do immuno-gold labelling to locate antigens. Because these instruments are rare, there are not many examples of their use in biology, so people often overlook the possibility. Because of this, it is often straightforward to obtain unique insights into the processes being studied which can be instrumental in achieving publication in high impact journals. It is a versatile technique that has been used to look at the surface structure of molecular complexes, organelles, culture cells, tissue and whole organisms. Samples can also be examined frozen, so that fixation is not always necessary.
Both EMs are straightforward to use and are routinely operated by undergraduate project students.
Data Analysis workstation and software
The facility has a dedicated high end analysis system with commercial and opensource software packages. Software includes Amira for for Life Sciences a 3D/4D visualisation and analysis package (https://www.fei.com/software/amira-3d-for-life-sciences/) and Huygens essential for deconvolution (https://svi.nl/HuygensDeconvolution) with specific modules for Lightsheet deconvolution too.
Dr Tim Hawkins
Advanced Light Microscopy Facility manager
Mrs Christine Richardson
Electron Microscopy Facility Manager
or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Department of Biosciences