The ability to associate molecules or molecular functions with particular cellular structures is a key element of biological research. Digital imaging methods are significantly expanding the range of information that can be obtained.
The Weis Center for Research possesses the following instrumentation and technical expertise for biological imaging:
- Conventional light and fluorescence microscopy - microscopes (inverted and upright format) are equipped with digital cameras and software for image processing and analysis; microscopes are linked to a central file server to facilitate image file storage and manipulation.
- Immunohistochemistry - IHC analysis of paraformaldehyde-fixed and paraffin-embedded cells and tissues is carried out; immunohistochemical staining is done manually or using a Ventana automated stained; a variety of antigen retrieval protocols are used.
- Laser scanning confocal microscopy - a Leica TCS SP2 laser scanning confocal microscope with prism spectrometer head is used for high resolution imaging and 3D reconstruction of fixed cells and tissues.
- Spinning disk confocal microscopy - An Olympus IX81 inverted microscope with spinning disk unit and high sensitivity CCD camera is used for fluorescence imaging of live or fixed cells and tissues.
- Structured Illumination Microscopy - a Zeiss Axio Observer.Z1 microscope equipped with ApoTome optical sectioning is used to acquire high resolution images as single planes or Z-stacks that can be combined to create 3D images. Available hardware and software allow time-lapse image capture and image-stitching.
- Electron microscopy - a JOEL JEM-1200EX transmission electron microscope is used to obtain high resolution images from fixed cells and tissues.
- Flow cytometry and cell sorting - A BD FACS ARIA II cell sorter with 3 excitation lasers and a photodiode detector for forward scatter is used for mult-channel flow cytometry of labeled cells and cell sorting.
The ability to analyze nucleic acid molecules in biological samples has become an essential element of biological research. The Weis Center for Research possesses the following instrumentation and expertise for nucleic acid analysis:
- Genotype and quantitative PCR analysis -- Genotype analysis of SNPs and other variants and quantitative real-time PCR analysis is carried out using TaqMan and other assay platforms; there are four Applied Biosystems 7500 Fast Real-Time PCR Systems and one TaqMan Open Array Genotyping System. Roche Light Cyclers are also available for quantitative PCR assays.
- DNA extraction - A QiaSymphony SP DNA Robot from Qiagen is used for automated DNA extraction from blood, saliva, and other biologial samples.
- DNA sequencing - A Life Technologies Personal Genome Machine (PGM) uses the Ion Torrent semiconductor chip technology for DNA sequencing and generates up to 1 Gb of sequence data per run.
Beginning in 2007, Geisinger began a biobanking initiative at the direction of the External Scientific Advisory Board in recognition of the role genomics would play in the future of medicine and Geisinger's focus on individualized medicine and care.
In 2013 MyCode™ was expanded to the MyCode™ Community Health Initiative to include exome and genome sequencing and a commitment to the return of clinically actionable research results. Sample collection occurs in primary care, specialty and pediatric clinics. In 2014 consenting and collection of samples will begin during community events. Also in 2014 online consenting via the MyGeisinger patient portal will begin.
Standardized specimen container type, transport, location tracking, and storage for 3,000+ patient encounters per day provide quality serum, RNA, and DNA specimens. An IRB-approved system is in place to allow the retrieval and storage of clinical specimens from consented participants that are scheduled to be destroyed. CLIA-approved samples are available for research and the entire system is working on CLIA and CAP certification to facilitate the return of clinical results to participants. All samples are linked by a unique code to the Geisinger EPIC electronic medical record.
For more information about the MyCode Community Health Initiative and biobanking activities at Geisinger, contact Sam Fetterolf, Project Manger at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-855-636-0019