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Banner image: Quanbin Xu (Liu Lab)

Light sheet microscopy is coming to the BFALMC

CU Boulder Scientists awarded $1.2M grant to establish the Beckman Center for Advanced Light Sheet Microscopy and Data Science

April 15, 2021

By Joe Dragavon

L-R: Amy Palmer, Kristi Anseth, and Joe Dragavon

Professors Amy Palmer, Kristi Anseth and I have been awarded funds to create the Beckman Center for Advanced Light Sheet Microscopy and Data Science. This is a wonderful opportunity to advance our imaging capabilities while integrating computer science and other data visualization and analysis specialties. This is huge news for the facility, the BioFrontiers Institute and CU Boulder. With your help, we will make this a successful endeavor that will create many new research avenues. The light sheet systems will be first at CU and within the entire region that will reside within a core facility. While initial access will prioritized for the co-investigators, the light sheets will be available to the entire CU Boulder and local scientific community.

Briefly, two light sheet microscopes will be built that are suited for opposite ends of the spatial resolution spectrum. The first will be based off of the adaptive SiMView light sheet microscope to image macroscopic objects such as organoids, embryos and brains (McDole et al Cell 2018, doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2018.09.031; Royer et al Nature Protocols 2018, doi: 10.1038/s41596-018-0043-4). The technology was developed by Dr. Philipp Keller (HHMI, Janelia Research Campus) and is suitable for fixed and live samples as we will be able to regulate the temperature, humidity and CO2. The second system will rely on Field Synthesis Light Sheet for subcellular imaging developed by Professors Reto Fiolka and Kevin Dean at UT Southwestern (Chang et al, Nature Methods 2019, doi: 10.1038/s41592-019-0327-9). Field synthesis is capable of achieving spatial resolutions similar to lattice light sheet, but is more stable and easier to set up. Like the SiMView system, the Field Synthesis LS will be suitable for fixed and live samples.

With the gentle illumination from the light sheet, we are able to acquire rapid multicolor 3D images of living samples for a significant amount of time, allowing researchers to observe real-time cell to cell interactions such as these. This technology allows our investigators to pursue avenues of research that have been inaccessible until now (Video courtesy of Quanbin Xu and the Liu Lab).

While becoming common pieces of equipment, the aforementioned light sheets will offer technological advances that will make them unique. As such, we have recruited Professor Kevin Dean to provide in-person assistance in the set-up and optimization of the microscopes. We are fortunate to have access to Kevin’s expertise in this area.

Along with the light sheets, we will also be expanding our integration with local data science specialists to help in data management, visualization and analysis. The integration of microscopy and data science is the next step in the evolution of our imaging facility, and will help facilitate the use of the technologies as well as facilitate their scientific output. Over time, the light sheet microscopes and the development and incorporation of data visualization and analysis pipelines will become an essential resource for our investigators.

The Beckman Center for Advanced Light Sheet Microscopy and Data Science represents a significant paradigm shift in the capabilities and culture of the BioFrontiers Advanced Light Microscopy Core. To ensure the success of the center, we will rely on the pillars of the ALMC, including Education and Support. In the coming months, we will be organizing regular light sheet-focused presentations and educational sessions to prepare you for the technology and the data science pipelines. Once the light sheets are established, we will hold regular training sessions so that you are comfortable on the microscopes. As always, we will be available to support you during any of your sessions.

This is an exciting and wonderful opportunity for all of us. We look forward to the possibilities that are created from this award.

Read more here.