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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University August 7, 2006 | Vol. 35 No. 41
Revamped Integrated Imaging Center Opens at Homewood

J. Michael McCaffery, director, in the new Integrated Imaging Center, which is a microscopy resource for researchers from all over Johns Hopkins and elsewhere.

By Lisa De Nike

Big changes — and improvements — to the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences' Integrated Imaging Center mean enhanced opportunities for researchers everywhere who are delving into life's smallest building blocks.

This summer, the center relocated on the Homewood campus from its former headquarters in the basement of Mudd Hall to its new home in 2,500 square feet of freshly renovated space in Dunning Hall. Not only is the new location roomier — by about 1,000 square feet — but it also is situated on the first floor, making it much more convenient and visible, according to J. Michael McCaffery, the center's director and an associate research professor in the Department of Biology.

"We are thrilled with the new location and the improvements to the center," said McCaffery, conducting a tour of the center's new digs on a recent afternoon. "Though we are a Department of Biology facility, the center is really a microscopy resource for researchers Hopkinswide, nationally and even internationally. And the improvements in our physical facility and equipment will only enhance that status."

The center's goal is to provide convenient access to both conventional and advanced techniques in light and electron microscopy to researchers investigating cellular and subcellular structure and function. It serves scientists from as nearby as the departments of Biology and Chemistry to more distant institutions like Harvard, Stanford and University of California, Berkeley, not to mention those from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Bloomberg School of Public Health and Whiting School of Engineering, according to McCaffery.

The newly expanded and improved center is divided into five distinct suites or areas that include a combination ultramicrotomy/tissue culture/cell prep room; a comprehensive light microscopy suite, which includes a Marianas dynamic live cell imaging workstation, two Zeiss LSM 510 META confocal microscopes, a Deltavision deconvolution light microscope and two Zeiss epifluorescence microscopes; a scanning room with Typhoon and environmental scanning microscopes; a wet laboratory; and a transmission electron microscopy suite comprised of two Philips TEMs.

The Typhoon scanner, environmental scanning electron microscope and the Marianas workstation are all recently new, costing a total of about $650,000, and, like most of the center's equipment, they were acquired through grants obtained from the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation and Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

"In our nearly eight years of existence, we have grown from essentially zero equipment to presently having approximately $3.5 million in state-of-the-art equipment, which is astonishing," McCaffery said. "But what makes the IIC particularly unique for our users and collaborators is the comprehensiveness of our instruments and methodologies, and the integrated way that we apply and use them. I doubt you can find a better staff with more enthusiasm and expertise anywhere."

Ned Perkins, assistant director of the center, is 'exceptionally well-versed' in light and electron microscopy as well as all aspects of computer technology.

Working with McCaffery at the center are manager Michelle Husain, who is an expert in light microscopy techniques and computer software, and assistant director Ned Perkins, who is "exceptionally well-versed" in light and electron microscopy as well as all aspects of computer technology.

'Without these two, the center simply would not function," McCaffery said.

Also on hand is KSAS undergraduate Hanano Watanabe, who recently received a Provost's Undergraduate Research Award to study receptor clustering using the environmental scanning microscope and Fürster Resonance Energy Transfer. Watanabe recently completed training in the use of the environmental scanning microscope and is now the center's "resident expert," according to McCaffery.

"You simply can't have a top-notch center without top-notch people, and we are fortunate that we have that, too," he said.

McCaffery also boasts a close and fruitful relationship with Carl Zeiss, the company that supplies the center with its light microscopes.

"We consider Zeiss microscopes the best, most reliable and durable instruments, and the company has always been very committed to the IIC at Homewood," he said. "All of our light microscopes are based on Zeiss platforms, and they have proven to be exceptionally durable and reliable in our demanding, multiuser environment. This means something when I tell you that a couple of our light instruments are approaching 20 years old and still going strong."

McCaffery credits a number of his Hopkins colleagues for helping establish the IIC and keep it growing throughout the years.

"Much credit should go to Victor Corces, who was chair of the Department of Biology from 1998 to 2003; Allen Shearn, our former chair and current vice-chair; Karen Beemon, our current chair; Gary Ostrander, former associate provost for research; M. Kathryn Lauer, senior associate dean for finance and administration; Ed Lattman, dean of research and graduate education; and Adam Falk, dean of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences," he said. "Without their vision and committed support, the center would not exist."


Everyone's invited to Imaging Center's open house

An open house will be held at the Integrated Imaging Center from 3 to 6 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 11, in the center's new location, 102 Dunning Hall, Homewood campus.

Visitors are welcome to tour the freshly renovated and expanded 2,500-square-foot facility, which includes five suites, each with a specialized purpose. In addition, center staff will be on hand to conduct demonstrations and discuss the center's role in providing electron and light microscopy services to Hopkins researchers, as well as others around the world.

The open house is sponsored by Carl Zeiss, the Thornwood, N.Y.-based supplier of the center's light microscopes.


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