Correlative Microscopy

The role of the Correlative Microscopy Group is to devise microscopy strategies that allow analysis of tissue and cells at resolutions spanning the microscale to the nanoscale. We collaborate with many existing groups of the Ingham Institute and also have our own research focus. Our research projects aim to look at chronic inflammatory disease and cancer from the perspective of being inside single cells. We use powerful electron microscopy and time-lapse imaging to identify cells, learn how they function and to understand how they contribute to the disease process.  Whether they might be activated or dying off, signalling or communicating with neighbouring cells or if they are mobile and invasive. At one million times magnification with these microscopes it is difficult to see things, as if isolated in dark space. This is the new nanoscale world that is now being opened up to biomedical science. We use a variety of probes to seek out structures that can help us identify key functions in cells - new generation probes such as fluorescent dyes and a variety of nanoparticles. Some of these nanoparticles have dual functions and are able to emit bright light and at the same time are able to be seen in the electron microscope that has no light. Importantly, we can use these on a single specimen whereas previously we needed multiple samples and had little idea how each sample related to each other. This improvement in visualisation will help us further understand the behaviour of inflammatory cells and tumour cells that cause disease. If we can understand the changes and behaviour of cells in the nanoscale we can devise strategies to block these events and this may assist with controlling the disease process.

Our FEI Morgagni transmission electron microscope is a “one of a kind” instrument in Australia. It is a new-generation fully digitally controlled electron microscope that has been optimised for fast throughput and efficient imaging at high resolution. The imaging system has high gain characteristics that allow imaging of very small nanoparticles (1-100 nm). We have also pioneered time-lapse live cell imaging capability at the Ingham Institute with the recently acquired Nikon Biostation IM-Q, only the third unit to be placed in an Australian research Institute. We also recently purchased in collaboration with UWS Molecular Medicine Group a Leica Microsystems Freeze Substitution specimen processing system that allows processing of frozen cells and tissue for electron microscopy allowing examination of cells in as close to the natural state as possible.

Group Leader:
A/Professor Murray Killingsworth
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