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February 2011 Issue

Jay Hove, PhD (left), and graduate student Michael Craig
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New Microscope Melds Speed, Clarity for Dynamic Imaging

Published February 2011

Christmas 2010 came a few days late for Jay Hove, PhD, but he didn’t mind. The state-of-the-art microscope that arrived at the end of December was worth the wait.

The Zeiss LSM 7 Duo confocal microscope, the new centerpiece of the department of molecular and cellular physiology’s Live Microscopy Core on the fourth floor of the Medical Sciences Building, marks an exciting technological advance for UC and the surrounding region, says Hove, an associate professor in the department.

"There’s no other single instrument that can do what it does,” says Hove, whose lab studies biological fluid flow using a zebrafish animal model.

"There are other individual pieces that can do a fragment of it, but to have it all together in one apparatus where the components can talk to one another is really exciting.”

In a nutshell, the new microscope offers a startling combination of speed and clarity—or, as Hove puts it, "It’s like a traditional confocal microscope married to an ultra-high-speed confocal microscope.” (A confocal microscope creates high-resolution images by eliminating out-of-focus light through use of a laser light source and an optical pinhole through which the light passes.)

Traditional confocal microscopy users can reconstruct three-dimensional structures by "stacking” the 2-D images and stitching them together with special software. Hove’s lab has recently developed a multi-pinhole approach which collects data from all three spatial dimensions simultaneously.

"For example,” Hove says, "we can use the point scanner of this new system to photo-bleach (decrease in emission intensity) a series of spots on the wall of a zebrafish heart to serve as markers and then, at the same time, record the way the markers move with the dual, high-speed, scan head. This allows optical manipulation and data collection simultaneously.

"Before, we could get a picture every three or four seconds. Now, we can set this device up to collect hundreds of frames per second with the only light source being photons emitted from the fluorescing sample.”

In a demonstration, joined by Hove’s graduate student Michael Craig and Chet Closson, manager of the Live Microscopy Core, Hove’s excitement is palpable as he points to the screen and says, "Look at the blood cells moving through!”

At a cost of $796,000, the new device didn’t come cheaply—or easily. With extra money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 available through the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), competition was keen, with the process stretching well over a year.

After winning the maximum grant of $500,000 from the NCRR, Hove obtained additional funding from UC and the Ohio Board of Regents to fill in the gap. User fees will help defray the cost of upkeep.

"I already have 19 different faculty members expressing interest in being primary or secondary users,” he says.

"We expect it to be a very high-use instrument, with scheduling through a website.

"I’m hopeful that this apparatus will help us as we grow into a regional research center, enhancing UC’s recognition for research excellence and supporting Ohio’s growing reputation as a hotbed for biomedical research.”

About Jay Hove’s Research:

Jay Hove, PhD, an associate professor in the department of molecular and cellular physiology, is interested in the effect of fluid flow on biology—particularly in the heart, kidneys and lymphatics. He uses zebrafish as an animal model of human disease.

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