Modern cellular and molecular biology relies on high-resolution analysis of spatiotemporal distributions of structures and molecules in live and fixed specimens. For the past 9 years, microscopic imaging for researchers in communications disorders at the University of Washington (UW) has been greatly enhanced by the NIDCD P30 Microscopic Imaging Core (Core C). These investigators have a long history of active interactions that have resulted in many co-authored publications and collaborative grants. Core C has facilitated microscopic imaging capabilities by increasing investigator access to modern methods for image acquisition and processing, expanding the breadth and efficiency of tools and experimental approaches for digital imaging, and increasing scientific interactions among its users. The major facility for this Core, the Digital Microscopy Center is based in the Center on Human Development and Disability (CHDD), in space adjacent to the Virginia Merrill Bloedel Hearing Research Center (VMBHRC). It includes 5 microscopes, 3 imaging workstations, and an advanced data archival system. The equipment, staffing, and day-to-day operation of this facility are possible through a partnership between the CHDD and the VMBHRC that has proven highly successful. Additional imaging facilities for core users are located outside the Digital Microscopy Center. The most significant and essential contributions made by this core are the salary support for the Staff Scientist, Glen MacDonald, and full coverage of usage fees for several microscopes for Core users. Mr. MacDonald has 23 years'of experience with fluorescent labeling, microscopic imaging, and digital image processing. For the last 9 years, he has managed this imaging facilities, upgraded its capabilities, and provided training for investigators, staff, and students. He has advanced labeling and imaging techniques, helped to purchase and maintain state-of-the-art imaging hardware and software, and established rigorous data backup systems. His efforts are invaluable to the core. In addition, the P30 has covered costs for microscope usage that would otherwise be highly taxing to individual research programs.
Communications disorders have profound effects on education and social development. For researchers who study this topic at the UW, the Microscopic Imaging Core improves the breadth and the efficiency of research and promotes new areas of individual and collaborative investigation by providing centralized facilities to conduct imaging experiments and dedicated personnel to oversee imaging studies.
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