About the Cellular Imaging Facility Core


The Cellular Imaging Facility Core was established when the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center came into being in 1994. The Facility Core was initially named the Experimental Pathology Service Core, but after several years of confusion over the Core's relationship with the College of Medicine's Department of Pathology, the name was changed (Nov 2002).



How can we help you?

The Cellular Imaging Facility Core can provide expertise and assistance to the labs of Center investigators at any point in the process of doing an experiment that involves imaging. The Facility Core staff draw from over 60 years of combined experience in microscopy and microscopic techniques. Our goal is to help SWEHSC faculty, staff & students perform high quality research that makes the best use of microscopic and digital imaging techniques.

We are available to help SWEHSC investigators with experimental design and troubleshooting of protocols. We can help your lab work through quality control issues in the service labs and provide technical support for the instruments that are affiliated with the Facility Core.

We provide hands-on training in a variety of techniques, and for a number of instruments. For example, if your lab needs to learn more about immunostaining, digital imaging, image analysis or confocal microscopy, contact the Facility Core. See our training opportunities web page for more details.

The Facility Core has been involved with the development of techniques for toxicology-related research. We can also assist your lab in the development of a technique that you've discovered in the scientific literature. For more information, please contact us.

After your experiment has been completed, the Facility Core can assist your lab with the analysis of the results. We have extensive experience in the interpretation of data generated by microscopes.


This Facility Core is very different. Why?

Early on we realized that there simply were not enough funds, nor was there strong enough investigator need, to allow us to operate our own microscopy facilities. Instead we opted to support and encourage the use of the existing campus microscopy-related facilities. To SWEHSC investigators and their labs we provide an additional level of personalized service and support that is typically not available to regular users of these facilities.

This means that while SWEHSC investigators pay the fees for the services provided by the campus microscopy-related facilities (operated by ARL, UACC, CMM), the additional personalized technical support available from the Cellular Imaging Facility Core is paid for by the center grant. For investigators that do not have experience with microscopy, this support can assure successful experiments and possibly reduce the cost of the experiments through wise use of the campus microscopy-related facilities.


Mission and Objectives

This is the "official" statement about the Facility Core, taken from the most recent annual report to the NIEHS.

The overall objective of the Cellular Imaging Facility Core is to provide members of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center (SWEHSC) with both routine and advanced capabilities in the visualization, quantitation and interpretation of structural and in situ molecular alterations to tissues and cells following exposure to toxicants.   The Specific Aims of the Cellular Imaging Facility Core include providing:

  1. Instrumentation and expertise for specialized imaging techniques
  2. Expertise in experimental design and implementation of morphological techniques
  3. Quantitative structural analysis and interpretation of morphological alterations
  4. Training, consultation and technical assistance for users
  5. Standard microscopic services

The Facility Core’s goal from its inception has been to ensure that the techniques of microscopy and specialized imaging are approachable, particularly for investigators, staff and students who do not have much experience with microscopy.  The philosophy of the Facility Core has been “train to use” rather than “do” for the investigators.  With this philosophy, the Facility Core has taken responsibility for assuring that the Center investigators have “state-of-the art” equipment and techniques, and are provided with the scientific expertise and training to obtain and interpret their data.  If needed, the Core staff have operated equipment as an expert user to assist investigators with projects that are technically challenging, or that need to be turned around quickly. The Facility Core has assisted users with experimental design, the details of specific procedures, the optimization and troubleshooting of instrumentation, data analysis, and the final interpretation of results.  This has included assistance in the preparation of portions of manuscripts and/or grant applications.

The Facility Core encompasses a wide range of imaging techniques.  These methods are often used in combination with, or as confirmation of, results obtained by molecular biology, biochemical, analytical chemistry or other techniques.  This multi-pronged approach leads to stronger publications and greater confidence in the published data.  The most active users of the services available within the Facility Core have historically been microscopy oriented.  For those laboratories with less experience in microscopy techniques, the Facility Core is an invaluable resource.  The presence of the Facility Core has meant that these investigators have a resource to guide and assist them with microscopy and imaging techniques.  This added assistance means that investigators can obtain useful data more quickly than they would have been able to do without the presence of the Facility Core.