Professor Grohovaz at the ALEMBIC, San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Milan

Professor Grohovaz at the ALEMBIC, San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Milan

The ALEMBIC Staff, from left to right: Front; Simona Maida, Miriam Ascagni, Barbara Rossetti and Maria Carla Panzeri. Rear; Andrea Menegon, Fabio Grohovaz and Cesare Covino.

The discovery and development of fluorescent proteins such as GFP has revolutionized the use of microscopy in life science, creating new opportunities for the study of live cells as well as whole organisms. The visualization of protein localization and dynamics has been greatly accelerated by the parallel development of new imaging approaches, of which confocal microscopy is paramount. The Advanced Light and Electron Microscopy BioImaging Center (ALEMBIC) in the San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Milan, Italy promotes research by offering reliable access to these highly specialized techniques.

Professor Grohovaz moved to the San Raffaele Scientific Institute in 1992, as head of the Cellular Neurophysiology Unit. In 2002 he was appointed Full Professor of Physiology at San Raffaele University and in the same year he founded and headed the ALEMBIC. This was a result of a common effort between the San Raffaele Scientific Institute and the San Raffaele University. Since then, the ALEMBIC has grown as a research resource for the local scientific community. State-of-the-art instrumentation and image analysis software are offered in a comfortable and welcoming environment. The service activity is organized into two major areas: electron microscopy and light microscopy. An additional area of Research and Development is devoted to the development of new methodologies.

The service activity is organized so that users (from San Raffaele as well as other Research Institutes) can independently prepare samples and acquire and analyze images, all with the support of the staff who are ready to provide training and suggestions to achieve the best results. Up to the current time, about 600 people have been trained and about 290 users are currently active with independent access to our instrumentation, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Dr. Cesare Covino is the Light Microscopy Specialist Coordinator within the ALEMBIC. Cesare says: "The ALEMBIC has always looked to diversify the available instrumentation in order to meet the varied needs of our researchers. In recent years we have witnessed an increasing interest in time-lapse microscopy. Live-cell microscopy research has been growing and providing researchers with a unique tool to investigate individual cells at work, even when processes occur over an extended period of time. In this respect, the UltraVIEW from PerkinElmer has proved an effective and versatile platform characterized by remarkable acquisition speed and low photobleaching rates. Moreover, the flexible and quick way in which the Volocity software builds 2D, 3D and 4D data sets makes this instrument highly appealing to users, especially those working on thin tissue slices".

The movie shows a 4D timelapse of the mitochondrial network in BHK cells. Images were acquired using the UltraVIEW ERS spinning disk system and surface rendering was achieved using Volocity software. The movie was also made using Volocity. Nuclei were stained with Hoechst (blue) and mitochondria with RFP (red). Movie courtesy of Cesare Covino and Maria Carla Panzeri.

For more information on the ALEMBIC, please see http://www.sanraffaele.org/research/alembic or contact alembic@hsr.it