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Advanced Spatial Biology and Research Histology Facility

The Saint Louis University Advanced Spatial Biology and Research Histology Facility provides a wide range of microscopy equipment and histological and microscopy services on a fee-for-service basis to researchers at SLU and those at other universities and businesses around the world. We specialize in techniques that bridge microscopy and molecular techniques and provide multiple related services.

ASBRH Work Request RLEM Microscope Reservations

Our technical staff will assist researchers in planning experiments, working at the microscopes and evaluating results. We carry out microscopy projects for researchers at many starting points. We are sensitive to the importance of getting results to the researcher as quickly as possible, and we endeavor to maintain the shortest turnaround times consistent with sample volume and complexity.


A pathology slide that is a sample of what a submission looks like
  • Fixation, processing and sectioning of samples for paraffin, frozen and plastic workflows
  • Routine and special histological stains for paraffin and frozen tissue sections
  • Automated and manual immunohistochemistry (IHC)/immunofluorescence (IF) for paraffin and frozen tissue sections
  • Digital spatial profiling services (transcriptomics and proteomics)
  • RNAscope, BaseScope in situ hybridization
  • Tissue microarrays
  • Whole-slide scanning and web database storage
  • Microscopy training
  • Microscopy project design

Please inquire about other services not listed above.

Sample Submission Policies

Formalin Fixed Paraffin Embedded Tissue (FFPE, or "Paraffin Sections")
Samples must be submitted in 10% formalin only and in an appropriate volume (at least 20:1). Samples must be cut to no more than 3mm thick and must fit within a tissue cassette. For best results, submit specimens oriented in tissue cassettes (please see an ASBRH staff member for helpful tips). We will not accept specimens stored in alcohol. Please see the timing guidelines below for sensitive assays (IHC/IF/RNAscope).
Frozen Sections
It is preferred that samples be submitted in sucrose (30% w/v for neural tissues; 20% for all other tissues). For best results, it is recommended that animals be perfused with 4% paraformaldehyde followed by an optional post-perfusion 4% paraformaldehyde fixation and mandatory graded sucrose incubations. Quick freezing in appropriate molds in dry ice or liquid-nitrogen-cooled 2-methyl butane after drying tissue is essential to good morphology. Some tissues such as skeletal muscle and eye have notable exceptions to these guidelines. Please see ASBRH staff for full protocols.
Optimal tissue processing is often antibody-dependent. Please discuss with an ASBRH staff member for your specific assay's needs. As a general guideline exposure to aldehyde-based fixatives should be limited to no more than 32 hours. Consequently, samples should be submitted within 24 hours of harvest to the ASBRH. Samples are only received Monday through Thursday for IF/IHC work. Regardless of these policies, we cannot guarantee every IF/IHC experiment to produce the expected results due to the variability in primary antibody quality from manufacturers.
RNAscope assays have specific requirements and may be submitted as either fixed/fixed-frozen samples or fresh-frozen samples. Fixed/fixed-frozen samples must be submitted in either 10% formalin or 4% paraformaldehyde, respectively, within 24 hours of harvest to the ASBRH (samples may not be in fixative for more than 32 hours). The date and time fixation began must be provided along with the type of fixative. Fresh-frozen samples may optionally be collected from animals perfused with 4% paraformaldehyde, but should be snap-frozen in liquid-nitrogen-cooled 2-methyl butane and wrapped in foil. Please see an ASBRH staff member for the full protocol.
Plastic Sections (TEM)
Please consult an ASBRH staff member for the appropriate tissue fixative for your tissue. Tissue must be submitted as a cube in no greater than 1 mm in each dimension. Please see ASBRH for instructions for oriented tissues. Samples must be submitted within one week of harvest.
Slides for GeoMx must be sectioned according to Nanostring's recommendations on either Leica Apex Superior Adhesive slides or Fischer SuperFrost Plus. The tissue needs to be within a specified area of the slide. The slides should be prepared no more than one week before the desired staining time. A plan must be provided or outlined for ROI selection or time set aside for coming in to do the selection with assistance. Due to its logistical complexity, a kickoff meeting is required with the ASBRH to initiate a digital spatial profiling project.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Who utilizes your services?
Our clients come from within SLU, other universities, and private companies in the metropolitan St. Louis area and across the United States and Canada.
Where are you located?

We are in the Saint Louis University School of Medicine in Schwitalla Hall, Room M102. The entrance to the building is at 3545 Vista Avenue. Please enter at this address and you will be directed to our facility.

When is the lab open?
We are generally open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday but can make special arrangements to meet your needs. Check for special hours during holiday seasons.
Can I submit clinical samples?
In short, no; we only work with samples for research studies. Clinical samples can be submitted to either the Histopathology Lab (314-617-2814) or the Clinical Electron Microscopy Lab (314-617-2854). For research samples using human tissues, please check with us for policies regarding IRB approval. 
What do you charge?

Our prices are competitive with other facilities that offer microscopy services. Please review our current pricing here:

View Current Pricing (PDF)

How do I submit a sample?

Investigators within SLU can bring the sample to our lab or call us to arrange pick-up from a lab. Those in the St. Louis metropolitan area can bring the sample to our lab or submit using our online sample submission tool.

Submit Sample Here

How fast will I get results?
We recognize that you need results in a timely manner. We can obtain results relatively quickly if you submit a small number of samples (one to five).
How will I be billed?
We bill on a monthly basis. You will receive an invoice from the Department of Pathology with remittance information.
Can I do my own scope work?

You can do your own scope work if you have been trained to use the microscopes. There will be a charge for scope time, but no additional charge for ASBRH personnel. Please contact us well in advance to schedule an appointment.

I don’t know if I want my samples embedded in paraffin, OCT, or plastic. Can you tell me which would be the best for my experiments?
We suggest you discuss your project with us at the outset to determine which procedures will yield the specific information you need. We can provide the appropriate fixative and even assist with dissections to ensure the best possible outcome for your studies. 
Can I have multiple sections from different blocks cut onto a single slide?
Our policy is to provide sections from one block per slide.  Please discuss this with an ASBRH staff member and plan submissions accordingly.
Why should I use the ASBRH?
We are passionate about microscopy. We have the tools and we know how to use them. We bring your images to life.