Focus on partnership: FEI microscopes arrive on campus

On July 1, three state-of-the-art FEI electron microscopes arrived on campus, augmenting the instrumentation available to researchers via the OHSU Electron Microscopy (EM) Core Facility and marking a milestone for the OHSU/FEI Living Lab for Cell Biology.

Announced last September, the three highly advanced microscopes are a key part of the OHSU/FEI Living Lab for Cell Biology, a partnership between OHSU and FEI to link FEI's state-of-the-art microscopy with OHSU's top biomedical researchers. Under the auspices of the OHSU Center for Spatial Systems Biomedicine (OCSSB), the lab's long-term goal is to construct a detailed picture of cancer and other diseases at the molecular, cellular, tissue and organism levels, while also advancing imaging technology for the life sciences.

The physical location of the OHSU/FEI Living Lab for Cell Biology will eventually be housed in the OCSSB's new space within the Collaborative Life Sciences Building, now under construction on the waterfront.

Read about the heroic efforts required to move the FEI microscopes to campus.

The OHSU EM Core Facility recently put out a call for projects to all OHSU principal investigators. The facility, in partnership with the OCSSB under the leadership of Joe Gray, Ph.D., is offering free use of the instruments to researchers pursuing pilot projects for a limited time.

Read how researchers can take advantage of these instruments.

"These are amazing resources available only in a few places in the world," said Eric Barklis, Ph.D., director of the OHSU EM Core Facility and professor of molecular microbiology and immunology. "They'll allow people to try new things and to push their understanding in ways that other people can't. They also offer a unique opportunity to have FEI engineers working with scientists to solve technological challenges and to push the edges of molecular imaging."


Helios NanoLab DualBeam Scanning Electron Microscope

  • Location: Floor Zero, Richard Jones Hall
  • Online: Best estimate is August, approximately
  • Ideal for the analysis of surface proteins and topographies
  • The second beam, a focused ion beam, blasts off the surface of a sample (like a sandblaster) to reveal information just under the surface in order to provide a novel 3D picture of cell volume.
  • The scanning/blasting process takes approximately 16 to 24 hours

Titan Krios Transmission Electron Microscope
  • Location: Floor Zero, Richard Jones Hall
  • Online: Best estimate is September, approximately
  • One of 50 or fewer high-resolution, cryo-electron microscopes in the world
  • Requires a specialized environment: low vibration and heat differential tolerance, an absence of electromagnetic currents
  • Achieves atomic resolution data
  • Good for achieving high-resolution, high-quality optics for cryo (specially frozen) samples, as opposed to fixed samples. "When you image on the Titan, you'll be seeing the object basically as it occurs in nature," said Dr. Barklis.
  • Has low-dose capabilities, achieves balance between showing good information and destroying the sample
  • "Has an exquisitely controlled computer stage that produces high-resolution tomographies," said Dr. Barklis.

iLEM (Integrated Light Electron Microscopy) Microscope
  • Location: TBD
  • Online: Projected timing is hopefully in October, approximately
  • One of two in the world (the other is located in the Netherlands); this one is the first to be commercially available
  • Correlates light microscopy and electron microscopy.
  • Uses light microscopy to find a rare cell or event and uses electron microscopy to study that event
  • Ideal for identifying rare cells, events in a large sample, say 1 in 10,000 events or cells
  • "With the iLEM, you can find that needle in a haystack," said Dr. Barklis.

"Everyone should be thinking: 'How can I use these?'" said Dr. Barklis.

"The arrival of these instruments and new faculty recruits Summer Gibbs, Xiaolin Nan and Kimberly Beatty kick off the OHSU Center for Spatial Systems Biomedicine in grand fashion," said Dr. Gray. "OCSSB faculty look forward to working with the OHSU community to develop new approaches to understand the multiscale behavior of normal and diseased cells and tissues."

"Our researchers will now be able to tackle challenging biomedical problems with the most sophisticated and technically advanced EM instrumentation in the world," said Dr. Stenzel-Poore.

"The addition of these microscopes to the Living Lab helps distinguish us as a place that nurtures frontier areas of basic and clinical science," said Dean Mark Richardson. "As we look to attract top biomedical researchers and funding dollars to campus, the FEI-OHSU partnership demonstrates the powerful benefits of industry collaboration."

Learn more about the OHSU EM Core Facility's microscopy. Questions? Contact , director of the EM Core Facility.