Core Services

Cell and Tissue Microscopy Core

The Cell and Tissue Microscopy Core (CTMC) supports the District of Columbia Intellectual and Developmental Disability Research Center (DC-IDDRC) researchers in their work that is reliant on the use of high-resolution optical and electron microscopic approaches to study cells and tissues.

These include studies focused on pediatric diseases including neurodevelopmental disorders, fetal and neonatal brain injury and genetic diseases. CTMC serves researchers at Children’s National Hospital, George Washington University, Georgetown University and Howard University. Support from CTMC enables imaging at high spatial and temporal resolution while also allowing functional imaging and deep – as well as large – area imaging. These needs are met by CTMC through equipment it offers to allow widefield, confocal, live and multiphoton microscopy with optogenetic manipulation, super resolution, correlative light and EM as well as large field 3D-EM. 

With these developments, the core continues to meet and expand its mission to enable structural and functional imaging from nanoscale to organismal scale that are aimed at understanding and treating defects leading to IDDs. The core continues to help develop and implement quantitative analytical approaches for image visualization and data analysis. The core participates in collaborative IDD-relevant projects that heavily rely on the use of newer technologies.

A significant mission of the core is to train the next generation of researchers in the use of advanced microscopy approaches through offering hands-on training, educational workshops organized by the core in collaboration with other companies and researchers in the greater Washington, D.C., region. CTMC also collaborates with other DC-IDDRC cores including the Human and Animal Imaging Core, Neurobehavioral Core and Genomics and Bioinformatics Core to serve projects with cross-disciplinary needs. 

Through these endeavors, CTMC continues to leverage technological developments in the field of microscopy to enable conception, design and implementation of these technologies to tackle challenges in the field of IDD research.


  • Provide tools for structural mapping of cells and tissues to study neural circuitry. 
  • Offer electron microscopic and super-resolution imaging approaches to identify subcellular defects associated with IDDs. 
  • Enable live and in vivo imaging to investigate cellular and subcellular interactions and perform functional brain mapping. 
  • Collaborate with other cores, centers and leading industry partners to educate and enable access to cutting edge microscopic technologies. 

Provided Services and Technology

The CTMC provides access to a broad range of services which include the following:

  • Three dimensional and multicolor imaging of fixed cells and tissue section using Confocal Microscopy, Apotome, Deconvolution Microscopy, Multiphoton Microscopy.
  • Live in vivo imaging of live cells and tissues ex vivo and in situ using Confocal microscopy, Multiphoton microscopy of anesthetized/awake animals, Optogenetics, Electrophysiology.
  • Optical clearing and Deep Tissue Imaging of whole organ, embryo or large tissues using Optical clearance and immunolabeling (CLARITY, iDISCO), Widefield, Confocal, Multiphoton and Light sheet microscopy.
  • Electron and Super-resolution microscopy Nanoscale 2D and 3D imaging of cells and tissues using Correlative light and EM, back-scatter SEM (FIB-SEM), TEM, Gated STED and PALM Super-resolution microscopy.
  • Long-term live cell imaging of Extended imaging of tissue slices, explanted tissue, cells in culture using Spinning disc confocal microscopy, Real time deconvolution microscopy (THUNDER), TIRF microscopy, Widefield microscopy.
  • Stereology, Digital Pathology and Laser Capture of 3D spatial quantitation, histopathology, tissue microdissection using Mbf Stereology, Neurolucida 360, Olympus VS120 slide scanner, MMI CellCut.
  • Data visualization, data analysis, quantitative analysis, visualization and data presentation through the use of dedicated workstations and software for data visualization and quantification.