Miller Awarded NIH Grant for SEM

Dr. Sara E. Miller, Professor in the Department of Pathology, has been awarded a High End Instrumentation grant by NIH to purchase a Serial Block Face Scanning Electron Microscope.  This instrument, costing $1.3M, provides the capability to produce 3-dimensional images inside tissue at the ultrastructural level (a few nanometers, depending on the type of specimen).   It operates by photographing a tissue block face, slicing off a very thin section from the face, and then reimaging the tissue face again; this is performed hundreds to thousands of times.  Ultimately, all the digital serial images are reconstructed into a 3D block of tissue that can be rotated electronically to view the backside or inside to examine relationships of and contacts between cells.  Investigators will use this microscope to determine how cells communicate with each other. 

In addition to 3D electron microscopy, this microscope will augment the current biological electron microscopic capabilities of the EM Shared Resource located in the Department of Pathology.   This facility has operated for over 4 decades and served hundreds of Duke researchers over the years.  The new microscope will also serve as a Shared Resource for the Southeast, as no other similar instruments exist anywhere in North Carolina or even in neighboring states, the closest being in Florida and Maryland.  There are only about 20 in the United States and 50 in the world, and this is the first time NIH has awarded an S10 HEI grant for a serial block face scanning electron microscope.