Morphology and imaging

Allowing researchers to examine the form of living organisms and the relationships between their structures.

Technology to drive breakthrough science

The Morphology and Imaging Core is a centralized facility serving the microanatomical, histological, live-cell and in vivo microscopic imaging and bioenergetic assay needs of all researchers and projects at the Buck Institute as well as external users. Core staff provide a range of support, from direct participation in research projects to routine sample preparation for imaging.

The full-service laboratory customizes and optimizes protocols for histology, cytochemistry, immunostaining, in situ hybridization, functional imaging and image analysis to meet individual needs. Experiments are conducted using brightfield, DIC, fluorescence, laser scanning confocal, two-photon or transmission electron microscopy. State-of-the-art software is employed to analyze and quantify multidimensional data sets. We provide training in all services offered.

  • Martin Brand, PhD . Director

    Martin Brand was trained in the UK at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, where he received his Bachelor of Science, and at the University of Bristol, where he received his PhD. His postdoctoral work was at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, with Professor A. L. Lehninger. Dr. Brand was a faculty member of the Biochemistry Department at the University of Cambridge, and he was subsequently a group leader at the Medical Research Council in Cambridge. He moved his laboratory to the Buck Institute in 2008. His research focuses on cellular energy transformations, and his lab uses techniques such as fluorescence imaging and extracellular flux analysis.

  • Akos Gerencser, MD, PhD . Assistant Director

    Akos Gerencser received his MD and PhD in neurosciences at Semmelweis University and his MS in biomedical engineering at Budapest University of Technology and Economics in Hungary. His postdoctoral work was at the Burnham Institute for Medical Research in La Jolla, California, and at the Buck Institute. He has worked with Dr. Brand at the Buck Institute since 2008, initially as a staff scientist and since 2012 as an assistant research professor. His interdisciplinary research merges assay technology development (primarily advanced live-cell fluorescence microscopy) for mitochondrial physiology and bioenergetics with application of these technologies to neurodegenerative diseases, stem cell biology, and type 2 diabetes.

  • Stella Breslin, BS . Senior Research Associate - Morphology

    Stella Breslin graduated from Cal State East Bay in 2013 and joined the Buck Institute in 2014. She received a certificate in optical microscopy and advanced bioscience microscopy from the Merritt College Microscopy Program in 2010. She oversees and assists with all core responsibilities, including tissue processing and embedding and histological sectioning of frozen and paraffin samples. She is also involved in core imaging projects and shares general project management duties with collaborators.

  • Harris Ingle . Research Associate

    Harris Ingle graduated from UC Berkeley in 1994. He received a certificate in optical microscopy and advanced bioscience microscopy from Merritt College in 2010, where he continued to work as a lab technician for the Merritt Microscopy Program. He was in the first cohort of Merritt College’s Histotechnology program in 2015. He joined the Buck Institute in 2019 and assists with core services such as tissue embedding, sectioning, and histological staining. His duties include training the Institute’s technical and research staff in the use of facility instrumentation and software.

Laboratory services

Tissue processing, embedding, and sectioning: frozen, paraffin, or floating

Histological stains: H&E, Cresyl Violet, Oil Red O, etc.

Immunohistochemistry or immunocytochemistry with enzyme-substrate development (HRP, AP) or fluorescent secondaries


Imaging services

Functional imaging: imaging of calcium and other ion concentrations, fluorescent protein localization and aggregation, organelle motility, apoptosis, FRET, FRAP, mitochondrial and plasma membrane potential, photoactivation/uncaging, etc.

High content imaging: automated microplate-based multidimensional imaging

Conventional microscopy: brightfield, DIC, fluorescence (blue/green/red/infrared)

Laser scanning confocal and two-photon microscopy: immunolocalization, co-localization, fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, functional time course, slice culture, fly organs, intracranial, etc.

Transmission electron microscopy: sample preparation, sectioning, imaging, image analysis


Image processing services

Bitplane Imaris: modules include Imaris Core, Measurement Pro, FilamentTracer, co-localization and batch processing for 3D or 4D reconstruction and analysis for fixed or functional imaging data

Image Analyst MKII: multidimensional time-lapse analysis, customized high content analysis, automated image analysis


Leica embedding center, sliding, and automated rotary microtomes (RM2155)

Leica CM1950 cryostat

Microm HM505EP cryostat

RMC MT7000 ultramicrotome with diatome diamond knives

Leica TP1020 automated tissue processor

Nikon SMU-zoom dissecting microscope

Dual-view Nikon E400 microscope


Light microscopy

Zeiss LSM 780 confocal with 405nm Diode, Argon (458nm, 488nm and 514nm), 440nm Diode, 561 DPSS and HeNe 633 lasers for fixed or functional imaging. Equipped with constant temperature enclosure and CO2 regulation at the stage for functional assays.

Zeiss LSM 7MP deep tissue imager with Chameleon Vision II laser, (705nm-1080nm).

Zeiss LSM 700 on an upright AxioImager.M2 with 405 nm, 488 nm, 555 nm, and 639 nm Diode lasers and motorized stage for fixed imaging.

Zeiss LSM 510 confocal with Argon (458nm, 477nm, 488nm and 514nm), 543 HeNe and 633 HeNe lasers for fixed or functional imaging.

Nikon Eclipse Ti-PFS wide-field fluorescence microscope with TIRF and SRRF super-resolution options, controlled by NIS Elements 5.20 or µManager and equipped with a Lambda 821 LED light source with Lambda 10-3 emission filter wheel an Andor iXon Life 888 EMCCD camera and an Air/CO2 gas mixer.

Nikon Eclipse Ti-PFS wide-field fluorescence controlled by NIS Elements 5.20 and equipped with a Lambda LB-LS17 light source with Lambda 10-3 excitation and emission filter wheels a Cascade 512B EMCCD camera, a MS-2000 motorized stage (ASI; Eugene, OR) and an OKOLab Air/N2/CO2 gas mixer. Both microscopes are equipped with filter sets for NADH, Fura2, Fluo3, TMRM, CFP, GFP, YFP, RFP, Cy5

Nikon Ni-E upright microscope with motorized stage, MQA18000 DS-Fi3 Microscope Camera controlled by NIS Elements 5.20, epifluorescence, DAPI, GFP, Texas Red and CY5 filters.

Nikon TE300 with DXM1200f CCD camera, DIC optics and Hg bulb for fixed sample brightfield, DIC and epifluorescent imaging.



Electron microscopy

Transmission electron microscopy: FEI-Philips Tecnai 12, tilting stage, Gatan Bioscan CCD


Respirometry and flux analysis

Agilent Seahorse XFe24: 24-well extracellular flux analyzer

Agilent Seahorse XFe96: 96-well extracellular flux analyzer



Perkin Elmer EnSpire Alpha plate reader: luminescence and AlphaLISA/AlphaScreen microplate reader

We charge researchers at an hourly rate for utilizing core services and equipment.

External contracts are evaluated on a per-project basis.

Please contact the core manager for further information.

Stella Breslin
Senior Research Associate – Morphology
415-209-2000 ext 6809

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