University of Minnesota
University Imaging Center
University Imaging Centers - Where the University sees the future


Rules of Use: University Imaging Centers

The University Imaging Centers (UIC) is a fee-for-use facility open to investigators and projects of members of the University of Minnesota community as well as external users. All external users are subject to the UIC external rates. An External Sales agreement is required for all users outside the University of Minnesota.

How do I Get Started?

1. The first step in using UIC equipment is to schedule a meeting between you and UIC personnel. During this meeting, the project and details of the experiment will be discussed and the most appropriate microscopic modality selected. In this way, everyone is fully aware of the strengths and weaknesses in the experimental design, and the UIC personnel can provide maximum methodological and instrumental support throughout the project. If necessary to increase the sophistication of experiments, formal collaboration between the UIC and the PI's laboratory is possible.

2. Contact the managing staff to obtain training and to access our online reservation system. Training by University Imaging Centers staff is required before using any UIC equipment. We will provide 1 hour of introductory experimental consulting at no charge. Further training or technical support carries an additional charge.

3. Equipment and technical time rates are available here.

4. Time on equipment must be reserved in advance and usage logged on the UIC web site ( If you need to modify your appointment, contact staff as soon as possible. Appointments not canceled 12 hours in advance will be subject to a minimum of one-hour fee and up to the full reservation if not utilized.

Using UIC Facilities

6. No Modifications to the instruments are permitted without prior approval from the managing staff. Use of equipment off-site is restricted and subject to pre-approval.

7. Food and beverages are prohibited in most of the facilities. Biosafety including blood, radioactivity and biohazard risks are also not allowed without written permission. Only non-hazardous chemicals required by experiment are authorized.

8. Users shall provide their own specialized equipment, supplies and reagents (dyes, sample holders media, etc.). Microscope slides and No. 1.5 coverslips are available.

9. Users are not to adjust acquisition / imaging software parameters that would impact other users. Many instruments allow users to save user specific settings. Contact staff if default software adjustments need to be made.

10. Users are responsible for thoroughly cleaning the equipment used after each session, including workbench, glassware and computer workstations.

11. Microscope users - Oil immersion objectives must be gently wiped clean with optical lens paper only. You will be held responsible if you contaminate dry objectives with oil. UIC will gladly show you proper methods of objective cleaning.

12. Users are responsible for disposing of wastes in the appropriate waste containers.

13. Actual usage time (including warm-up/start-up) for each instrument MUST be recorded online. Failure to do so can result in loss of access to the UIC. It is the users responsibility to provide accurate billing information.

14. The UIC provides only limited and temporary data storage space.  Please move your data from our computers / servers immediately. We recommend bringing your own removable storage device or transferring through the network. Then copy your data to an automatically backed up computer.

15. Users must report instrument problems/damages to the staff immediately.

16. When in doubt about proper operation and cleaning of the equipment, the user is responsible for contacting staff. Failure to do so may result in the user being held accountable for consequential damages, up to the full value of the damage.

17. Users are not permitted to train others in the operation of instruments. All training must be performed by UIC staff.

18. Users should acknowledge the University Imaging Centers in published presentations whenever possible.

Example: "Microscopy imaging and analysis was performed at the University Imaging Centers, University of Minnesota".

Time Use Policy

1. Time between the hours of 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday to Friday is deemed "prime time" and subject to the following restrictions: 

2. Use of certain instruments may be limited to 5 consecutive "prime time" hours per user per day, and must either finish no later than 1:00 pm or start no earlier than 12:00 pm. Day-long reservations may be granted based on experimental grounds to accommodate, in particular, live cell or live animal imaging. UMN research that requires imaging for greater then 4 continuous hours qualifies for an extended usage discount. External users do not qualify for the extended usage discount.

3. Use of a given instrument greater than 15 hours per laboratory per week may require prior approval of UIC management.

4. Reservations outside "Prime Time" and during week-end and official holidays can be made only by previously trained users and have key card access. Please consult with staff well in advance to confirm elegibility.

5. This policy will be implemented by monitoring the reservation calendar. Reservations made in conflict with this policy and without first consulting with UIC staff may be cancelled without notice.

Billing Policy

Microscopes are available to trained users 24/7 with the following limits:

  • You will be billed for the maximum time between reserved time and actual logged time.
  • If your usage time exceeds your reservation you will be billed for the usage.
  • Should your reservation exceed your usage time charges still apply for the time you've blocked off on the calendar. 

File Storage

User data is the users responsibility. Users files left locally on UIC systems is not backed up and will be deleted as needed. The UIC provides data transfer space on our servers so that users of the facility have a method to move files from our equipment to other computers or off-line storage devices as per your data management plan. The purpose of the space is not for storage of your data. Please remove your files as soon as possible so that others can use the space. Files left on our server for over three months will be automatically deleted. We recommend using Google Drive to backup data as needed. If you need assistance please contact UIC staff.

Disclaimer: The services and systems offered are available to researchers within the University of Minnesota system and affiliated institutions, as well as some off-campus entities with NIH funding, for their basic research projects or as part of basic research collaborations with other academic institutions or nonprofit organizations. Involvement or funding from for-profit (commercial) organizations is available on a contractual basis. The UIC reserves the right to refuse service to any entity or project that may present a biological or health hazard, introduce potential pathogens, or otherwise pose a risk to staff or contamination to the facility.

Thank you.



Manipulation of Digital Images

The issue of the manipulation of digital images has come to the forefront recently due to several publicized cases. The Microscopy Society of America has issued a policy on this issue (see Reference #2 below). We in the Imaging Center have considered the issue in depth and how it may impact our clients. Based upon these considerations, we have adopted a modified statement from the Journal of Cell Biology as the Imaging Center Policy on the Manipulation of Digital Images:

"No specific feature within an image may be enhanced, obscured, moved, removed, or introduced. The grouping of images from different fields of view or exposures must be made explicit by the arrangement of the figure (e.g., using dividing lines) and in the text of the figure legend. Adjustments of brightness, contrast, or color balance are acceptable if they are applied to the whole image (and to corresponding control images as well), as long as they do not obscure or eliminate any information present in the original. All adjustments, especially Nonlinear adjustments, (e.g., changes to gamma settings) must be disclosed in the figure legend or materials and methods."

It is our policy in the Imaging Center to encourage clients to optimize their cell/tissue processing and image capture parameters intitially so that post-image capture manipulation becomes unnecessary. It is also good policy to relate any image manipulation performed in the figure legend, even if deemed to be minor. However, remember that the "raw" image must be maintained and saved, so that any manipulations are done to a "copy" of the image. Journals may request to see the original raw, unaltered image (see #7 below). A good discussion describing issues related to digital image manipulations can be found in the following references.

  1. Rosser M, and Yamada KM (2004) What's in a picture? The temptation of image manipulation. J Cell Biol 166:11-15.
  2. Mackenzie JM, Burke MG, Carvalho T and Eades A (2006) Ethics and digital imaging. Microsc Today, pp. 40-41 (January 2006).
  3. Editorial (2006) A picture worth a thousand words (of explanation). Nat Methods 3:237.
  4. Rosser M (2006) How to guard against image fraud. The Scientist, pp.24-25 (March 2006).
  5. Hayden JE (2000) The ethics of digital manipulation in scientific images. J Biocommun 27:11-19.
  6. Couzin J (2006) Don't pretty up that picture just yet. Science 314:1866-1868
  7. Photoshop: Friend or Fraud? A JBC Editorial (2007).