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Advanced Imaging Core (AIC)


The AIC’s mission is to accelerate research progress by providing advanced microscopy imaging and data analysis services through its state-of-the-art equipment and expertise.

Introduction and Services

The Advanced Imaging Core (AIC) is an exciting new addition to the UTHSC family of institutional cores.

The AIC houses light-sheet fluorescence, wide-field fluorescence and super-resolution flourescence microscopy imaging equipment, enabling researchers to capture subcellular structures and to identify protein localization patterns with high accuracy in both 2D and 3D.

A Zeiss Elyra 7 system is available in the super resolution microscopy (SRM) Unit and a LaVision Ultramicrscope II light-sheet fluorescent microscope (LSFM) is available in the LSFM Unit.

These cutting-edge technologies minimize sample photodamage during imaging. Live imaging on the Elyra 7 system allows users to track fast cellular processes, such as vesicle movement, and to observe various signaling events.

In addition to maintaining these specialized instruments, the AIC offers expert technical assistance to investigators, including experimental design/consultation, microscope training, assistance with imaging, and post-acquisition image data analysis.

Equipment and Capabilities

Super Resolution Microscopy (SRM) Unit:

Zeiss Elyra 7 equipped with 4 Laser lines (405, 488, 561, 642) and 4 Objective lenses:

  • EC-Plan Neofluar 10x/0.30 M27
  • Plan-Aprochromat 40x/1.4 Oil DIC M27
  • Plan-Aprochromat 63x/1.4 Oil DIC M27
  • alpha Plan-Aprochromat 63x/1.46 Oil Corr M27

The Zeiss Elyra 7 system is capable of 2D and 3D wide-field microscopy, Lattice Structured Illumination Microscopy (SIM), Total Internal Reflectance Fluorescence Microscopy (TIRFM), and Single-Molecule Localization Microscopy (SMLM).

Lattice SIM allows very light-efficient imaging resulting in less photodamage to cells. Key features include:

  • 2D imaging speeds up to 255 fps
  • Image up to 4 channels at a time
  • Resolution down to 120 nm laterally, 300 nm axially

SMLM utilizes photo-switchable fluorescent dyes and proteins to induce spontaneous “blinking” of single fluorophores. This allows investigation of subcellular structures and single molecules in both fixed and live cells. Key features include:

  • Dual camera capability to image two different fluorophores at once
  • Resolution down to 20nm laterally and 50 nm axially

Light-Sheet Fluorescence Microscopy (LSFM) Unit:

LaVision Biotec (now Miltenyi Biosystems) Ultravision II coupled to an Andor Neo sCMOS camera

  • Second generation selective plane illumination microscope for 3D imaging of cleared samples (model# LV SY UMBA2).
  • NKT Photonics SuperK Extreme EXW-12 white light laser light source
  • NOTE: only pre-cleared, prepared specimens can be imaged in the AIC. Investigators should have optimized sample clearing conditions before providing specimens to AIC for imaging.


Location and hours of operation

Hours Location

10am-6pm, or after hours by appointment only

311 Johnson Bldg.

Links and Resources

  1. UTHSC Institutional Cores website
  2. Elyra 7 with Lattice SIM information
  3. UltraMicroscope II LSFM system
  4. Core use policies are available by emailing Dr. Helms


Name Role Phone Email Location
Rachel Helms, PhD
Microscopy Manager
Rm 311 Johnson Bldg.
Natalie Smith, MS
Assistant Director (Core Business)
Rm 156 CRB
Tiffany N. Seagroves, MBA, PhD
Associate VC for Research-Core Labs 
Rm 262 CRB