Washington University Center for Cellular Imaging (WUCCI)

LEADERSHIP: James A.J. Fitzpatrick, PhD


Understanding the physiological and morphological properties associated with the etiology of cancer is essential in developing appropriate treatment strategies. Recent advances in cellular imaging technology have enabled unprecedented dynamic and spatial resolution in studies of cells, tissues, and animals, and have created exciting opportunities for discovery in basic and translational studies of cancer. As a new Cancer Center Support Grant (CCSG) shared resource (SR), The Washington University Center for Cellular Imaging (WUCCI) aims to accelerate such cancer-related research studies by (i) providing access to state-of-the-art imaging technologies to facilitate/accelerate the research goals of SCC investigators; (ii) offering them technical support and professional guidance in experimental design and specimen preparation as well as in data acquisition, analysis and interpretation; (iii) enhancing educational opportunities for SCC members to learn about new applications of advanced imaging and analysis techniques and (iv) innovating new imaging methodologies relevant to cancer research. Available microscopic imaging technologies include live cell and whole tissue imaging, high-sensitivity and resolution confocal and super-resolution microscopy, as well as an array of electron, ion and x-ray microscopic techniques allowing the visualization of two and three-dimensional ultrastructure.

Knowledgeable and efficient utilization of sophisticated technology platforms requires training and professional guidance in its use and application. Thus, an overarching goal of the WUCCI is to ensure appropriate provision of cutting-edge support and training, priority consultation, assistance with experimental design and sample preparation, as well as custom data analyses to facilitate the generation of quantitative assays that will enhance the research avenues available to Siteman Cancer Center (SCC) members. Our Specific Aims are:

Aim 1: To provide reliable/affordable logistical access to, and professional guidance in using, state-of-the-art equipment for optical and electron, ion and x-ray microscopy in both structural and functional studies of cancer.

WUCCI provides access to state-of-the-art technologies, services and expertise in the interacting methodologies of fluorescence-based localization and electron microscopy to study the structure and function of cells, tissues, and whole animals. These specialized services are not easily replicated within individual laboratories without prohibitive costs in equipment, personnel, and training. The primary function of the WUCCI is to provide guidance on the development of quantitative imaging assays, which instrumentation(s) SCC members should use, training in the operation of that instrumentation(s), the acquisition of the data, and the interpretation and analysis of the acquired datasets. This is achieved by a continuum of technical support provided by the WUCCI Director along with the shared resource imaging and informatics specialists, two of which (one light and one electron microscopy specialist) will serve as dedicated points of contact for SCC members.

Aim 2: Educate SCC members, on a continuing basis in both basic and advanced imaging techniques and quantitative data analysis approaches.

When a SCC member laboratory requests access to a new microscope system, they receive priority training from one of the shared resource technical specialists on that microscope system. In addition, WUCCI maintains an active educational program beyond such trainings, which comprises of on-going imaging workshops that are spaced throughout the academic year that cover topics such as live-cell and super-resolution imaging, correlative light and electron microscopy (CLEM), single-molecule imaging, and multi-dimensional image analysis. In addition, WUCCI hosts technical seminars and demonstrations on new instrumentation on a routine basis.

Aim 3: Innovate new imaging and analysis methodologies relevant to cancer research and provide access to those technologies to SCC members.

WUCCI actively works on developing new imaging workflows that enable new avenues of research for SCC members. Current areas of focus are (i) the development of correlative light and electron microscopy (CLEM) to identify and track dormant cancers cells longitudinally, (ii) the development of contrast agents for x-ray microscopy to target and localize the three-dimensional distribution of disseminated tumor cells within bone and (iii) the implementation of artificial intelligence based image analysis pipelines for the detection and quantification of cancer cells in IHC and ISH images obtained from tissue microarrays.

LOCATION: Couch Biomedical Research Building, 4515 McKinley Ave., St. Louis, MO 63110

PRICING: Rates available here: CCSG members receive a 15% across-the-board rate subsidy.

TO ACCESS: Please call 314-747-0838 or visit WUCCI’s website:

NIH PUBLIC ACCESS POLICY: As of April 7, 2008, the NIH requires investigators with a publication using Siteman (or other NIH-funded) shared resources to submit (or have submitted for them) their final, peer reviewed manuscripts to PubMed Central(PMC) upon acceptance of publication, to be made publicly available within 12 months of publication. Many journals automatically submit these for authors, but Washington University also has assistance available through the Becker Medical Library. Please see or for more information.

PUBLICATION ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: If research supported by the Genome Engineering and Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Center results in publication, please acknowledge this support by including the following in your publication(s):

We thank the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, MO., for the use of the Genome Engineering and Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Center, which provided __________ service. The Siteman Cancer Center is supported in part by an NCI Cancer Center Support Grant #P30 CA091842.