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Photo courtesy of Christopher Gannon

Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust Helps Iowa State University Advance Research Frontiers With New Imaging Technology

By Elaine Watkins-Miller, Iowa State University Foundation

The Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust of Muscatine, Iowa, has committed $492,088 to provide advanced microscopy technology that will aid Iowa State University researchers in their work to improve human and animal health and sustain the agricultural crop yields that feed the world.

The Carver Trust’s support will help the university acquire a light-sheet fluorescence microscopy system, which is capable of long-term imaging, enabling researchers at Iowa State, Iowa’s other educational institutions and the region’s research communities to more accurately view real-time cellular processes over longer periods of time. Light-sheet microscopy delivers the speed of widefield microscopy with the optical sectioning of confocal microscopy. This allows faster scanning with less phototoxicity and photo-bleaching of samples.

“The Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust’s partnership in the acquisition of this leading-edge technology will provide a crucially important instrumentation capability for life science researchers and students, and an opportunity to positively impact the trajectory of research to benefit human health and well-being,” said Jeanne Serb, director of the Office of Biotechnology at Iowa State University. “It may literally shed new light on basic life processes of living cells.”

The instrumentation will be used by Iowa State teams from a variety of academic departments and colleges throughout the university for research that addresses neural degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, host parasite plagues such as malaria, plant growth and development, leukemia and other cancers, and the health of companion animals. Iowa State’s researchers and students will be able to develop and evaluate more accurate diagnostic tools, novel therapeutics and drug-delivery pathways.

In addition to aiding research, the new imaging system will offer undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral researchers and scientific support staff opportunities to learn about and experience the extended imaging capabilities of light-sheet technology.

The light-sheet fluorescence microscope will be installed in the Advanced Teaching and Research Building as a satellite location of the main Roy J. Carver High Resolution Microscopy Facility in the Molecular Biology Building. The facility is part of the Iowa State’s Office of Biotechnology, which has a long history of providing the research community with the microscopy tools needed to accomplish cutting-edge research.

Through support from the Carver Trust, Iowa State University’s Roy J. Carver High Resolution Microscopy Facility has become a state and regional resource, providing a variety of instrumentation, technical assistance, consultation and training to individuals and groups of life sciences and biotechnology researchers. In addition to round-the-clock instrumentation availability for trained individuals, the facility staff provides consultation and individual assistance and carries out service work for both on- and off-campus researchers.