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Electron Microscopy

The Electron Microscope Laboratory, has been operating here at Westmead since 1977, and is a comprehensive facility for life science electron microscopy, offering a range of conventional and low temperature preparation techniques for transmission electron microscopy. The laboratory was re-located to level 1 of the ICPMR building in 2012 and was re-opened as a joint facility of the Institute of Clinical Pathology and Medical Research (ICPMR) and the Westmead Research Hub.

Transmission electron microscopy provides a very significant increase in resolution over conventional light microscopy, but should be considered a complementary technique to other microscopies. Using transmission electron microscopy, cellular and sub-cellular structures can be examined in much finer detail with sections (60-200nm) prepared using a variety of conventional and low temperature preparation techniques. The technique is invaluable to the investigation of relationships between cellular components in biological systems and provides powerful insights into the fundamental processes of cellular and molecular biology.  Labelling techniques permit the specific identification of viruses and macromolecular complexes within the context of the cell.

Staff

The Electron Microscope (Research) Core is currently managed by Ross Boadle, a medical laboratory scientist with over forty years’ experience in diagnostic electron microscopy (tissue pathology & medical virology) the application of transmission electron microscopy to research projects in the life sciences and the preparation and delivery of training courses. Particular interests are the application of low temperature techniques to projects in cellular biology and the training and development of research staff undertaking transmission electron microscopy.
 
Emma Kettle is a Staff Scientist at the Children’s Medical Research Institute who is contracted to the Core through WMI two days per week. Emma has twenty years’ experience in transmission electron microscopy in a variety of research settings. Particular interests are the Tokuyasu technique for cryo-sectioning, immuno-labelling, low temperature preparation methods and electron tomography. Emma is also heavily involved in researcher training associated with these techniques.

Services

Core staff are available to provide applications advice and costing guidelines to project leaders to aid in grant preparation. First contact with the laboratory should be early in the planning process.
 
Through its relationship with the ICPMR (Pathology West), the facility offers an extensive suite of techniques for preparation of cells and tissues for conventional (resin section) transmission electron microscopy. Manual and automated tissue processing is available through the diagnostic laboratory with labour to be provided by individual researchers. Materials costs will be billed by Pathology West.
 
The research core provides a suite of conventional and low temperature preparation methods including processing to acrylic resins for immuno-labelling; the Tokuyasu technique for immuno-labelling; high pressure freezing of samples and freeze substitution for immuno-labelling, high resolution TEM and electron tomography. Negative staining methods for organisms and cellular fractions and preparation of samples for examination by energy dispersive X-ray microanalysis using sectioned material are also available. The low temperature techniques laboratory is a purpose built PC2 facility. Whilst collaborative expertise is available for “high end” techniques, researchers are expected to become technically self-sufficient in most techniques, following training by core staff and demonstration of proficiency.

Technology

Transmission Electron Microscopes: 200kV FEI Tecnai G2 20 TWIN with an Eagle 2kx2k (bottom mount) camera (2008) and 120kV Philips CM120 BioTWIN with scanning transmission electron microscopy [S(T)EM], energy dispersive X-ray microanalysis [EDAX] and a SIS Morada (side mount) camera (1998)

Ultramicrotomes: Leica UC6 and Leica Ultracut UCT

Cryoultramicrotome: Leica Ultracut UC7/FC7

High Pressure Freezer: Leica EMPACT I

Immunogold labelling: Leica EM IGL

High vacuum coating unit: Edwards Auto 306

Location

The Electron Microscopy facility is located on level 1 of the ICPMR building at the Westmead Hospital.