University of Vermont

College of Medicine

Office of Medical Communications

Parsons’ Shared Instrumentation Grant Increases Capabilities of Neuroscience Imaging Core

Rodney Parsons, Ph.D., Professor of Neurological Sciences Emeritus
Rodney Parsons, Ph.D., Professor of Neurological Sciences Emeritus (Photo: COM Design & Photography)

The University of Vermont College of Medicine’s Neuroscience Center of Biomedical Research Excellence-supported Imaging/Physiology Core is getting a new microscope – specifically, a Yokogawa CSU-W1 spinning disk confocal microscopy system. The system comes via a $500,000 dollar National Institutes of Health (NIH) Shared Instrumentation Grant awarded to Rodney Parsons, Ph.D., professor of neurological sciences emeritus. Todd Clason, M.S., manager of the Imaging/Physiology Core, will oversee use of the new equipment.

Parsons received a $600,000 NIH Shared Instrument Grant to purchase a multi-photon microscope for the Imaging/Physiology Core in 2012.

“This instrument is very fast in its ability to acquire images,” says Clason. “You’re able to see physiological processes as they occur.”

The new microscope’s capabilities are different from the many other microscopy instruments with which researchers prepare fixed samples on slides and then take a quick look. The new spinning disk microscopy system allows users to capture detailed images of live samples.

Part of the challenge in applying for a Shared Instrumentation Grant is demonstrating that the system will be made accessible to many users and that its use will result in publishable data and research.

“The Imaging and Physiology Core is set up for people to come in and learn to use the equipment themselves,” says Clason, who says that many of the instruments in the facility see 30 to 40 hours of use per week. Meanwhile, Parson’s grant application gathered summaries of publications built on research that either requires or would benefit from high-speed confocal images. In fact, some of the cited research uses images from an older Noran confocal microscopy system.

“We were able to show the NIH that we understand what this kind of instrument can do and that we could employ it to get publications that moved various fields forward,” says Clason.

The Yokogawa CSU-W1 spinning disk system expands the live imaging capabilities of investigators, says Clason. It comes with three cameras – two highly sensitive lower resolution (512x512) EM CCD (electron multiplication charged coupled device) cameras that work with low light settings and one higher resolution (2560x2160) camera – the Zyla sCMOS (scientific complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor) – that can achieve images for brighter samples. In short, says Clason, the cameras allow flexibility for the range of sample types that the facility might encounter – whether it’s brain tissue from a mouse, plant cells, or other living matter.

The Neuroscience Imaging/Physiology Core has open-access, and Clason encourages members of the campus community to check out the new spinning disk confocal microscopy system. He believes that investigators from the College of Medicine and beyond will be able to use it to continue to obtain and produce compelling, publishable data.