This NSF MRI Award funds the acquisition of a confocal laser scanning microscope that will facilitate student and faculty research at Pace University. The most fundamentally important functionality that will be gained by this acquisition is the ability to do 3-dimensional imaging in live organisms. Some of the research projects that will be facilitated include 3-dimensional imaging of neuronal differentiation in live zebrafish embryos; in vivo imaging in juvenile squid in order to assess the molecular mechanisms important for a symbiotic relationship between bacteria and squid; 3-dimensional imaging in Arabidopsis plants to assess the molecular mechanisms, and environmental influences, of stomatal development; and multicolor fluorescent protein imaging in cancer cells to assess the subcellular localization and interaction of specific molecular pathways controlling cell growth, division, and apoptosis. For all of these projects, the ability to image non-invasively in vivo greatly increases the physiological relevance of the research questions that can be addressed
The acquisition of this confocal microscope will also give the diverse undergraduate student body at Pace University exposure to leading-edge experimental approaches. The undergraduate curriculum in biology, chemistry, and physics requires an independent student research project. Thus, with the acquisition of this confocal microscope, students will have the opportunity to gain firsthand experience with imaging of cellular and molecular processes in vivo, in live organisms. This gives students an opportunity to gain an appreciation for how current approaches allow researchers to address more meaningful questions about the molecular mechanisms important for biology, and an understanding and appreciation for the possibilities of a career in the basic sciences. In a similar vein, an established relationship between Pace University and the Ossining High School Fundamentals of Science Research course will give high school researchers the opportunity to employ current microscopy approaches for their independent research projects.
This Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) grant funded the acquisition of a laser scanning confocal microscope for research and teaching at Pace University, Pleasantville, New York. The major advantage of this microscope is that it allows for the imaging of three-dimensional structure in biological samples. This ability to image in three dimensions is particularly advantageous when visualizing biological structure in tissues, embryos, or whole organisms. Research projects here at Pace University that have taken advantage of the newly acquired Zeiss LSM 700 microscope include analysis of three-dimensional tumor models in culture, imaging of the developing brain in embryos of the small fish, zebrafish, analysis of the symbiotic relationship between the Hawaiian bobtail squid and the microbial community that colonizes it's light organ, and visualization of the structure of experimental lipid-vesicle-based drug delivery systems. The results of these studies were the basis of three NIH R15 grant proposals and one NSF RUI proposal. Of particular importance, this microscope has been utilized in nine undergraduate research projects and two high school student science research projects. Thus, in addition to facilitating the research goals of faculty, acquisition of this imaging technology here at Pace University has vastly increased the sophistication of questions that can be addressed by our undergraduate researchers.