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Leica microscope adds to biotech research

By BY LIBBY CLARK
On October 21, 2010

The Byrd Biotechnology Science Center has brought a new addition to the building for academic research and class use.

A Leica microscope that was made to Marshall's specifications was created in Germany and came to an estimated overall cost of $900,000.

"This was assembled in Germany and then disassembled," said David Neff, Marshall imaging core technician. "It was assembled and tested, then disassembled and crated up and shipped, then reassemble."

Students from five majors and 10 minors will initially use this microscope for researching purposes, such as neurobiology, genetics, physiology, molecular biology and bioengineering.

"I have a fruit fly model," said Simon Collier, Marshall biology professor. "We are going to be looking at different stages of development of flies with this microscope, and that will be used by various people in my lab, mostly graduate students with their masters or Ph.D."

Marcia Harrison, Marshall biology professor, said students might not necessarily get to work with the microscope right away because it will take a lot of training and time to learn the system. However, they will get to observe and possibly assist in some work.

This microscope is a laser scanning fluorescence confocal microscope, and it might be the only one in West Virginia at this time, Neff said. The microscope was purchased because it has the ability of optical spectroscopy, multiphoton microscopy and confocal microscopy.

Neff said the microscope has several functions. From the science standpoint, optical spectroscopy is a machine that can separate light into its competent colors. It is also capable of tomography, which is another capability of the microscope, it is a type zigzag scan that allows someone to look at live tissue and large tissue, which is similar to a CAT scan.

"Dr. Antonsen is going to have live crawfish mobilized on the stage," Neff said. "So they need a nice stable platform for that. That's the basic configuration of the stage. It is a fixed stage that is upright, and it is a custom-made stage."

The microscope takes up a small room in the biotech building, which consists of everything from a flat-screen computer to the specifically-designed microscope.

Harrison and Neff said they hope to have an open house to show people the microscope toward the end of the fall 2010 semester.

The process to get funds for the microscope lasted about nine or 10 months, and funding for the microscope came from a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Libby Clark can be contacted at clark273@marshall.edu.

By LIBBY

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