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TSRI-Nikon Partnership Allows Scientists to See More Clearly, Probe Deeper

By Cindy Brauer

Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) can now probe more deeply and clearly into the microscopic elements of cells with the recent opening of a new Nikon Center of Excellence on the California campus, featuring the latest in advanced molecular and atomic imaging technology.

The center is an academic-industry partnership between the institute and optics systems provider Nikon Instruments, Inc.

“We are pleased about this exciting new partnership with Nikon,” said Ulrich Mueller, chair of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience and director of the Dorris Neuroscience Center (DNC). “It will provide researchers at TSRI with rapid access to the most modern imaging technology currently available. As an added advantage, we will be able to develop technological solutions to imaging problems that can be transformative for the research community as a whole.”

According to Nikon officials, the partnership aims to lower the barriers for establishing a state-of-the-art microscopy facility and to enable a free exchange of ideas, methodologies and technologies between TSRI investigators and Nikon’s development teams.

A ribbon-cutting on November 12, officially launched the new center. Located in DNC 207, the center’s space has been refurbished to accommodate the prototype equipment, which requires walls painted matte-black to eliminate gloss reflection that could impact the instruments’ laser function.

The imaging facility includes a newly installed Nikon N-SIM microscopy system, which produces nearly two times the resolution as conventional optical microscopes and enables detailed visualization of minute intracellular structures and their interactive functions. Coming soon is the Nikon A1 MP multi-photon confocal microscope, which features a high-resolution galvanometer scanner.

The new Nikon instrument prototypes are provided on extended-term loan, after which the institute may purchase the equipment at a discount, said Kathy Spencer, DNC core microscopy manager.

The center also offers other TRSI-owned Nikon instruments, including an A1R laser-scanning confocal imaging system, capable of high-speed capture of high-quality images of cells and molecular events with enhanced sensitivity, and N-STORM, a super-resolution fluorescence microscope technology.

TSRI researchers may use the center’s equipment on limited, time-available basis. For more information, contact Spencer at x4-8437 or

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George Campbell, graduate student in the Encalada lab, checks out the super-resolution microscope, which enables scientists to view intracellular structures and molecular activities, in TSRI’s new Nikon Center of Excellence. (Photo by Cindy Brauer.)