(SW5) Image Processing and Analysis for Core Facilities
Serial Block Face SEM Service
The fundamental tenet of modern biological understanding is the relationship between structure and function. That is, what something does is directly related to its shape, what it is made of, and the arrangement of its parts. This is true at each size scale from the organ system, to the tissue, the cell, the organelle, and finally at the molecular level. In order to decode mechanism in biology one must understand these relationships. Moreover, for this, it is especially important to appreciate cell and tissue context, macomolecular organization, organelle structure, function and integrity, and the relationship between formed elements in the cytoplasm with cell polarity, and the machinery of cell motility and division to name just a few. Recent advances in serial block face electron microscope imaging provide game-changing progress important for the understanding of diverse public health problems including aging, neurodegenerative disease, cancer, diabetes, kidney and liver disease, and developmental disorders, to name just a few. These techniques allow investigators to image macromolecular features and cell- and tissue-specific relationships at extremely high resolution in 3-D and in large overall volumes, which previously have been unattainable by conventional means. This information can then be digitally sampled, much like clinical MRI data sets. This approach allows gives the researcher an unparalleled view of biological structures at high resolution in 3-dimensional space bridging the gap between optical microscopy and standard transmission electron microscopy. In this presentation, we will discuss our Cores’ experience with establishing a serial block face electron microscope service and the cyberinfrastructure to store, manage and analyze extremely large image data files for understanding cell and tissue architecture in human disease processes.