Tuesday, August 16, 2011

From High Tech to Highest Tech: The NSC Biology Program keeps students on the leading edge

By Dr. Robin Herlands, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biology

Last week we had two representatives from the Amnis Corporation here on campus to give hands-on ImagestreamX training to NSC biology students and faculty participating in summer research. An ImagestreamX is an instrument that combines the high throughput cellular analysis of flow cytometry with the high resolution imagery of fluorescent microscopy. The ImagestreamX is the only instrument capable of this remarkable kind of data acquisition and analysis, and NSC is one of only 30 institutions in the U.S. that has such an instrument (and is certainly the only institution that focuses on undergraduate education). NSC faculty Dr. Robin Herlands and Dr. Andy Kuniyuki co-hosted the event with Ben Alderete and Scott Mordecai from Amnis. NSC students Anam Qadir, Jessica Cargill, Nick Puglia and Jason Koroghli were trained to run cell samples on the instrument and analyze images collected to quantify events like cell division, cell signaling, and cell shape.

In addition, we had two collaborators here from University of Nevada, Reno : Dr. Doug Redelman, an immunologist in charge of cytometry at UNR, and Dr. Jared Townsend, who runs one of the flow cytometers on the UNR campus. These UNR scientists are hoping to collaborate with Dr. Robin Herlands and her students in the use of the ImagestreamX to characterize cells of the mouse gastrointestinal tract that could play a role in regulating normal physiology and the immune system. Other interesting samples were sent via fed-ex down to NSC to run on the instrument, including cells from a potential collaborator at UNR who is studying lipid (and possible fuel) production and storage in algae. Our NSC students were able to run these samples on the ImagestreamX, collecting thousands of digital images of the unique cells. Of course, students ran cells from their own projects in insect immunity that they have ongoing with Dr. Herlands. On the final day of the week, we had two renowned speakers present their data and projects that involve the ImagestreamX:

• Dr. Henri van de Hyde, Ph.D., Staff Scientist, the La Jolla Institute of Allergy and Immunology. Topic: Cellular Microparticle Analysis using Cytometry
• Dr. Jon Weidanz, Ph.D., Chief Scientist/Founder at Receptor Logic, Inc. & Associate Professor & Director, Center for Immunotherapeutic Research Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. Topic: Developing Immunotherapeutics for Treating Cancer and Infection

This was an incredible opportunity for some of our NSC students to hear from and interact with some of the top scientists in the field who are using the same instrumentation at their facilities as we have at NSC. The entire week was productive and rewarding, and we would like to particularly thank Amnis for sponsoring this special week of training on our campus!

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