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CSU acquires $600,000 microscope


By James Ryan

March 21, 2013

Cleveland State University’s Center for Gene Regulation in Health and Disease (GRHD) acquired a $600,000 Nikon A1Rsi confocal microscope through a grant from the National Institutes of Health and the National Center for Research Resources.

Until now, Cleveland State only possessed a single fluorescent microscope, which was old and shared by all researchers in GRHD. In the past the researchers had to transport their cell samples to confocal microscopes in Cleveland Clinic and Case Western. This confocal microscope marks the dawning of a new era in the research capabilities of students and faculty throughout the Department of Science.

“I was very happy when I heard that our university was getting the confocal microscope,” said Jayeeta Dhar, a second year regulatory biology Ph.D student at CSU. “I was not very sure how to use or deal with that microscope. But after getting the training from the technical experts, I was very happy to use it for my own set of experiments."

Dhar added, “The main thing we are doing with the microscope is to check live cell imaging. Moreover, it gives 3D structure of the cells so we can clearly differentiate between the superficial or in depth attachment of two organelles. We mainly check the cellular mechanism along with organelles’ movement and also protein translocation from one organelle to another.”

The Nikon A1Rsi confocal microscope is capable of taking high resolution (4096 x 4096) video and still images of cells and rendering them on a computer screen through Nikon’s elaborate yet user-friendly software package known as “NIS Elements”. The confocal microscope and software allow CSU researchers to precisely control laser intensities, and emit fluorescence into cells to see how they interact and behave. This microscope truly stands out because it can project a cell’s depth through 3D imaging, while taking live pictures of cells any time without the need for manual, user control.

At CSU, faculty and students are conducting research in molecular biology, heart disease, infectious disease, neurological disease and cancer. For example this new capability in high-resolution microscopy is set to improve the research capabilities helping faculty and staff better tackle parasites, viruses and more specifically -- Toxoplasma gondii.

“This microscope will enrich our research quality from 60 percent to 95 percent, because it allows us to see the movement of live cells and different organelles inside the cells,” said Dr. Tanmay Majumdar, a CSU post-grad immunologist working with Toxoplasma gondii. “We are working on Toxoplasma gondii (a parasite capable of causing blindness, miscarriages and death), an obligate intracellular protozoan that infects approximately one-third of the world’s population. We are looking for the mechanism of infection inside the host. We observe the mode of infection inside cells by the using the confocal microscope. This microscope gives a movie-like picture of a battle between the cell’s defense mechanism and the parasite’s infective mechanism."

Majumdar added, “Students and faculties feel highly honored to have an instrument like this. In any invention, you need to show solid proof. People will believe our invention when we show our discoveries by eyes, because this microscope supports to observe actual live discoveries inside the cells.”

The individual responsible for writing the research grant that earned GRHD members this advanced capability device was Dr. Sailen Barik, director of GRHD. GRHD is a relatively new center that houses many CSU Science programs and disciplines. Barik believes in the unity that the Center for GRHD provides and asserts that the grant (for the microscope) wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for the Center’s mission.

“GRHD is the primary entity that represents essentially all modern biomedical research at CSU,” Barik said. “GRHD crosses traditional Departmental boundaries, selecting its members for their interest in biomedical, cellular and molecular research, and their efforts to obtain research grants to support such endeavors. This allows cross-fertilization of ideas and inter-disciplinary research programs that might not have been otherwise possible.”

Dr. Barik isn’t alone. Many professors and researchers at CSU unite under the GRHD name. Collaboration is the mantra for the Center for GRHD. If everything comes down to dollars and cents – this is a $600,000 lesson worth learning.