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Research Microscopy and Histology Core

The Research Microscopy and Histology Core provides a wide range of microscopy equipment and histological and microscopy services on a fee-for-service basis to researchers at Saint Louis University, as well as to researchers at other universities and businesses around the world. We specialize in techniques that bridge microscopy and molecular techniques and provide multiple related services.

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 different starting points. We are sensitive to the importance of getting results back to the researcher as quickly as possible and we endeavor to maintain the shortest turnaround times consistent with sample volume and complexity.

Our Mission

  • Provide personalized, cost-effective and quality sample preparation.
  • Provide excellent data collection, image processing and morphometric image analysis services.
  • Provide excellent digital spatial profiling and related services.

Equipment and Services

Equipment

  • Andor Dragonfly Spinning Disk Confocal
  • Leica SP8 TCS STED 3X Point Scanning Confocal
  • Olympus FV1000 laser scanning confocal microscope
  • Nanostring GeoMX Digital Spatial Profiler
  • JEOL 1400 Plus transmission electron microscope
  • Olympus IX81 live cell imaging microscope
  • Olympus VS120 slide scanning system
  • Leica DM6 epifluorescent microscope
  • Workstations with specialized imaging software (including SVI Huygens)
  • Omero image and whole-slide distribution system

Services

  • 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 please submit specimens oriented in tissue cassettes (please see an RMHC staff member for helpful tips). We will not accept specimens stored in alcohol. For sensitive assays (IHC/IF/RNAscope) please see timing guidelines below.
Frozen Sections
It is preferred that samples be submitted in sucrose (30% w/v for neural tissues; 20% 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 RMHC staff for full protocols.
IF/IHC 
Optimal tissue processing is often antibody-dependent. Please discuss with an RMHC 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 RMHC. Samples are only received Monday through Thursday for IF/IHC work. Regardless of these policies, we cannot guarantee every IF/IHC experiment to produce expected results due to the variability in primary antibody quality from manufacturers.
RNAscope
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 RMHC (samples may not be in fixative 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 RMHC staff member for the full protocol.
Plastic Sections (TEM)
Please consult an RMHC staff member for the appropriate tissue fixative for your tissue. Tissue must be submitted as a cube in no greater than 1mm in each dimension. Please see RMHC for instructions for oriented tissues. Samples must be submitted within one week of harvest.
GeoMX DSP
Policies will be added soon.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Who utilizes your services?

Our clients come from within SLU as well as from other universities and private companies in the metropolitan St. Louis area and across the United States and Canada.

Where are you located?

We are located within 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 Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. but can make special arrangements to meet your needs. Check for special hours during the 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 (314-977-7874) or the Clinical Electron Microscopy Lab (314-977-7854). 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 contact us at caroline.murphy.1@health.slu.edu or 314-977-7847 for a price quote.

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 send it via FedEx or private courier. Out-of-state clients usually send samples via FedEx or UPS. Our shipping address is 1205 Carr Lane, Saint Louis, MO 63104.

How fast will I get results?
We are very cognizant of the fact that you need results in a timely manner. If you submit a small number of samples (one to five), we can obtain results relatively quickly.
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?

If you have been trained to use the microscopes, you can do your own scope work. There will be a charge for scope time, but no additional charge for RMHC 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 that 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 a RMHC staff member and plan submissions accordingly.
Why should I use the RMHC?
We are passionate about microscopy. We have the tools and we know how to use them. We bring your images to life.