Visualizing the brain ultrastructure with ZEISS microscopes
The MPFI Electron Microscopy (EM) Core Facility of Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience (MPFI) now is a ZEISS labs@location partner institution. MPFI will have access to state-of-the-art ZEISS technology before it is commercially available, providing researchers with innovative imaging tools that will empower their search for new insights into how the brain works. Aside from Salk’s Waitt Advanced Biophotonics Center and Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, MPFI is only the third institution in the United States to earn the labs@location designation.
“ZEISS and MPFI have a long-standing relationship—we have been closely cooperating to push the boundaries of visualizing the brain ultrastructure since MPFI was established in 2012,” said Dr. Naomi Kamasawa, Head of EM Facility. “Our facility might be small compared to other institutions, but the scientific excellence and technology feedback we provided, together with the continuous effort and passion to push boundaries in our research, made us a special partner for ZEISS.”
Kirk J. Czymmek, Head of the Global ZEISS Microscopy Customer Centers praised the EM Lab in his remarks, saying “The team that you have here is special, and they are internationally recognized for their expertise.”
Block face imaging of biological samples
The first piece of equipment made available to MPFI scientists is known as the “Focal Charge Compensation module (FCC)”, which is integrated onto a Serial Block Face Scanning Electron Microscope system. The FCC introduces a local stream of nitrogen gas onto the sample inside the microscope, which absorbs unwanted electrical charges that interfere with imaging.
“This new technology results in much higher quality images and allows us to collect data from even more challenging samples,” Dr. Kamasawa explained. “Anything that allows us to better visualize the structure of neurons and correlate it to their function will allow us to achieve a more complete understanding of neural networks, and ultimately, of the brain itself.”
MPFI received the FCC equipment in August last year, and was the first institution in the United States to use the technology after ZEISS made a number of significant improvements to the current commercially available model.
“The role of high-resolution imaging in unraveling the functional complexity of the brain cannot be overstated. This partnership is a great recognition of the unique know-how and research expertise provided by our electron microscopy facility. It underlines the importance of connecting core facilities, scientists and commercial partners, providing MPFI access to cutting edge technologies to push the boundaries of neuroscience research” said Dr. David Fitzpatrick, Scientific Director and CEO of MPFI.
“Science is transitioning to utilizing 3D data sets and correlative microscopy, to this end we are pleased to partner with Max Planck Florida. These types of relationships are vital for us to better understand the issues and advantages of our hardware and software,” said James A. Sharp, President Carl Zeiss Microscopy LLC.