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Optical Microscopy & Imaging in the Biomedical Sciences


Optical Microscopy & Imaging in the Biomedical Sciences Course

Marine Biological Laboratory

This course is designed primarily for research scientists, postdoctoral trainees, and advanced graduate students in animal, plant, medical, and material sciences. Non-biologists seeking a comprehensive introduction to microscopy and digital imaging will benefit greatly from the course. Some prior theoretical or practical understanding of the basic principles of optics and microscopy is necessary. This 10 day course is limited to 26 students. It consists of correlated lectures, laboratory exercises, demonstrations, and discussions that will enable the participant to obtain and interpret microscope images of high quality, to perform quantitative optical measurements, and to produce high quality digital video, and digital records for documentation and analysis.

Topics to be covered include: (a) fundamental principles of microscope design, image formation, resolution, contrast; (b) bright field, dark field, phase contrast, polarized light, differential interference contrast, interference reflection, and fluorescence microscopy; (c) cameras, signal to noise ratio, digital image recording, processing and analysis, multispectral imaging; (d) advanced fluorescence– fluorescent probes, TIRF, FRET, FLIM, FRAP, polarization of fluorescence, fluorescence correlation spectroscopy; (e) digital image restoration/deconvolution, and 3-D imaging principles, confocal scanning microscopy, multiphoton excitation fluorescence microscopy, light-sheet microscopy; application of the optical methods to live cells will be emphasized, although other specimens also will be discussed; (f) super-resolution techniques including localization microscopy, stimulated emission depletion microscopy (STED) structured illumination microscopy. Particular emphasis will be placed on ‘picking the right tool for the job’.


Students will have direct hands-on experience with state-of-the-art microscopes, digital cameras, recorders, and image processing equipment provided by major optical, electronics, and software companies. Instruction will be provided by experienced staff from universities and industry. Students are encouraged to bring their own biological and material specimens, and to discuss individual research problems with the faculty.


Directors: Robert Hard, University at Buffalo and Hari Shroff, NIH

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