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University Imaging Centers - Where the University sees the future

New Microscope Gives Edge to Biomedical Researchers

  

Before scientists can make breakthroughs in biomedical research, they must understand what’s going on in the body, often at a microscopic level.

But despite the range of sophisticated lab equipment often at scientists’ disposal, it can still be difficult to view some of our bodies’ tiniest structures at the right level of detail to see how their behaviors affect the body as a whole. The right level of microscopic imaging for observing how tissues, connections in the nervous system, cells, and cell parts all interact lands in a gap between what common lab microscopes can reach. Traditional optical microscopes can’t zoom in far enough, while more advanced electron microscopes see things at too tiny a level.  

Recently, the University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic teamed up to acquire an instrument that could bridge this divide and bring biomedical researchers at both institutions much-needed imaging capabilities. Through a collaboration between Mayo’s Microscopy and Cell Analysis Core and the U’s University Imaging Centers (UIC) and Research Computing, researchers will soon have access to a serial block face scanning electron microscope—a technology that can image the large, 3D data sets on cells and tissues that were, until now, unobtainable.

The new microscope is undergoing final installation and testing this week at its home on Mayo Clinic’s Rochester campus. Once installed it will drive forward biomedical research into a wide range of health problems, including neurodegenerative disease, cancer, diabetes, and developmental disorders.

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