In this application, we are requesting funds for the purchase of an Asylum Research MFP-3D- BIO atomic force microscope (AFM) integrated with a Zeiss Observer.Z1 inverted fluorescent microscope. This state-of-the-art AFM requested in this application is the best available AFM to suit our current and foreseeable needs at Nationwide Children's Hospital (NCH), and it will be housed and operated from our Morphology Core Laboratory. Importantly, while we are not integrating this AFM with a confocal microscope, we foresee that future studies may necessitate this specialized functionality; as such, the proposed AFM will be situated next to the current Zeiss LSM 700 confocal in our Morphology Core, which will allow us to temporarily convert the dedicated AFM Zeiss inverted microscope to accommodate the confocal scan head, allowing us to have confocal capabilities in a budge-neutral manner. As there is currently not an AFM on the NCH campus, this instrument will add significant functionality to our NIH-funded research projects. These projects have a critical need to understand biological systems at a more fundamental level, and to apply this understanding of the biomechanical properties of these systems to problems as diverse as cardiovascular disease, microbial pathogenesis, biomedical engineering, perinatal diseases, and cancer. The requested MFP- 3D-BIO AFM is versatile and has several key features that set it apart from other instruments on the market that allow it to achieve better performance: (1) it has the highest thermally- limited resolution of any AFM on the market, making it very suitable to measure biomechanical forces of cells, biofilms, and binding as described in our application, (2) when housed in an acoustic enclosure, the noise in the data is extremely low, (3) and the user-friendly control, analysis, and image processing software integrates with Igor Pro 6, allowing for near limitless instrument control and analysis, and (4) the cantilever spring constant can be calibrated without making physical contact with the samples, which is a real benefit when working with soft and/or sensitive materials. These features, along with little to no maintenance, result in high-resolution data acquisition without significant long-term expense. This requested MFP- 3D-BIO will be critical to support the needs of our NIH-funded Major and Minor Users performing sensitive biomechanical measurements on biological samples (cells, biofilms, DNA), often where samples are limited and sensitivity is a key requirement.
The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital is requesting funds to purchase an Asylum Research MFP-3D-BIO atomic force microscope. This state-of-the-art instrument will add novel and significant functionality to NIH-funded investigators and other investigators at our institution, allowing us to conduct cutting-edge research into how the mechanical properties of tissues and cells affect their biological function. Understanding the fundamental mechanics driving biological changes as diverse as cardiovascular disease, microbial pathogenesis, biomedical engineering, perinatal diseases, and cancer will be crucial to the advancement of our research efforts to improve the health of children and beyond.
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