Funds are requested to acquire a Zeiss Cell Observer SD (spinning disc) confocal microscope to support the research efforts of multiple NIH-funded investigators at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). This live cell / live tissue imaging system is to be housed in a well-established, well-used and highly productive microscopy shared resource facility in the School of Medicine at VCU. The VCU Microscopy Facility is available to all VCU investigators and serves diverse research programs. The facility is directed by the PI, who has expertise in multiple aspects of microscopic imaging. Staff is available for consultation, instruction, assistance and collaboration. The requested equipment will help meet increasing research demands that cannot be fulfilled by the existing equipment in the Facility;namely, the ability to collect high resolution, high contrast confocal images at rapid image acquisition rates. Many research questions have been developed that require a higher temporal resolution and cannot be answered the relatively slow laser-scanning (point scanning) confocal systems that are presently in the facility. The requested Zeiss Cell Observer SD spinning disc confocal microscope is configured around an AxioObserver Z1 inverted stand and equipped with a Yokogawa CSU-X1A spinning disc unit, a Photometrics QuantEM 512SC cooled CCD camera (for high speed, high sensitivity imaging), an AxioCam MRm (for high resolution imaging), a high resolution piezo driven Z stage (for rapid 3D data collection) and a stage incubation system (to support live cell / live tissue imaging). This instrument will be used to image a variety of sample types including cells in culture, acute tissue slices, organotypic slice cultures and organisms (e.g. zebra fish). During the past year (2008), 83 different labs, representing 222 investigators from 23 different departments at VCU have used the Microscopy Facility and its services (widefield fluorescence, confocal, multi-photon, TIRF, atomic force/scanning probe, transmission &scanning electron microscopy, image analysis and sample preparation). During 2008, the laser scanning confocal microscope was used by 104 users from 49 labs, representing 17 departments. The projects conducted by these researchers represent a broad range of studies (cell biology, microbiology, neurobiology, bioengineering, virology, pharmacology, physiology, etc.). Representative studies of major users (from 9 labs;5 departments) have been highlighted in this proposal. Included are research reports from current users of the Microscopy Facility (Akbarali, Fuss, Hauser, Knapp, Povlishock, Ratz) as well as from 3 other investigators (Block, Lister, Tombes) who require the requested instrumentation to advance their research programs. The acquisition of a rapid imaging live cell confocal system will have a major impact on research at VCU as it will enhance the research capability and productivity of a well used core facility and will attract additional users (whose needs currently cannot be met by the available equipment).
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