University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

Physics and Astronomy Calendar

Thursday, September 26th 2019
10:10 am:
Biophysics Seminar in 120 PAN
Speaker: Jan Huisken, Investigator, Morgridge Medical Engineering and Visiting Professor, Integrative Biology
Subject: Putting advanced light sheet fluorescence microscopy in the hands of biologists with modular and portable instruments

Discoveries in biology often depend on cutting edge technologies such as microscopy. Biologists mostly rely on commercial microscopes, which are technically mature but often outdated and not well-tailored to the individual experiment’s requirements. An example is light sheet microscopy (SPIM), which has changed the field of fluorescence imaging substantially by offering a versatile technique to obtain optical sectioning in large specimens with high speed and minimal phototoxicity. The ability to custom design a SPIM instrument around a sample has empowered many research labs to do experiments that have been impossible with commercial instruments. I will give a few examples from our lab to illustrate how biologists use the technology to study morphogenesis and function in living organisms, primarily in zebrafish.
Unfortunately, only physics and engineering labs have been able to custom design such an instrument to enable demanding biological applications. We have addressed this issue by developing the Flamingo (, a modular, shareable light sheet microscope suited to a new model of scientific collaboration. Each microscope is customized for a given application, equipped to travel from lab to lab and to provide widespread access to advanced microscopy. With the Flamingo traveling back and forth between our lab and the partner labs, we hope to iteratively refine the technology and constantly improve the instrument. Driven by the ever-growing number of applications for light sheet microscopy, we will expand the capabilities of our Flamingo framework and thereby advance the optics as well as the biological experiments that our instrument enables. Most importantly, we address a major drawback of current collaboration models and imaging facilities: typically, the biologists and their samples need to travel to the microscope, inducing stress on the biological system. In our approach, the biologists stay in their lab where they can best perform the experiments, strengthening collaborations between the engineers and the biologists, while ensuring the experiment’s quality and reproducibility at the highest standards.

Suggested Literature
Power, Huisken, Nature Methods, 14, 360 (2017)
Berndt, Shah, Brugues, Huisken, Nature Communications, 9, 5025 (2018)
Daetwyler, Günther, Modes, Harrington, Huisken, Development 146, dev173757 (2019)

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