Welcome to the PMB Microscopy Core

The Microscopy Core of the Program in Membrane Biology (PMB) at MGH is equipped and staffed to provide a wide range of services to investigators from MGH and the Boston area scientific community in the area of light and electron microscopy. The Core is housed on the 8th floor of the Simches Research Center at MGH, and is directed by Dr. Dennis Brown, Ph.D. The Core will provide services ranging from the complete performance of the technical procedures required, to full training of personnel. Among the techniques available are laser scanning confocal microscopy, spinning disk confocal microscopy, tissue fixation, sectioning, immunostaining and conventional immunofluorescence microscopy, image analysis, and all aspects of electron microscopy including immunogold staining. The Core Facility provides a unique and important resource for members of the scientific community as they approach a variety of research problems that call for these advanced microscopy techniques.

Personnel/Contact Information:

Director: Dennis Brown, Ph. D.
Phone: (617) 726-5665
Fax: (617) 643-3182
Email: brown.dennis@mgh.harvard.edu

Associate Director: Richard Bouley, Ph. D. (light microscopy, confocal microscopy, image analysis)
Phone: (617)823-8740
Email: Bouley.Richard@mgh.harvard.edu

Other Staff

Senior Lab Technologist: Diane E. Capen (ultrathin sectioning; electron microscopy) 

Phone: (617) 726-3696

Getting Started:

If you have any queries before getting started, please contact the appropriate persons (Dennis Brown for general inquiries, Richard Bouley for light and confocal microscopy, and Diane Capen for EM work and sectioning). For Industry work, please contact the responsible person for a quote. 

Core User agreement (Must complete prior to using the facility)


Core users need to acknowledge the core. An acknowledgment statement is available in this link. Users can also contact Richard Bouley to get the statement. 

Facilities and Equipment:

Location of Core:

The facility is located at the Program in Membrane Biology, 8th Floor, MGH Simches Research Center, 185 Cambridge Street, Boston.

Major Equipment:

  • JEOL 1011 electron microscope with full digital image capture and processing
  • Zeiss LSM 800 Airyscan confocal microscope (upright platform)
  • Nikon AXR confocal microscope (inverted platform)
  • Nikon A1R confocal microscope with an environmental chamber for live-cell imaging (inverted platform)
  • Nikon 90i upright epifluorescence microscope with Hamamatsu Orca CCD camera and complete image analysis software (Nikon Elements) and motorized XYZ stage
  • Perkin Elmer LCI Spinning Disk Confocal Microscope
  • Nikon Total Internal Reflection Fluorescence (TIRF) microscope system
  • Nikon 80i upright epifluorescence microscope with Hamamatsu Orca CCD camera and complete image analysis software 
  • Nikon TE300 inverted microscope with wide-field optics and Hamamatsu Orca CCD camera for cell migration assays
  • Olympus double-headed light microscope for section examination
  • Leica ultramicrotomes (EM UC7) for routine EM sections (2)
  • Leica FCS ultracryomicrotome for ultra-thin frozen sectioning
  • Leica cryostats (CM3050S) for conventional cryosectioning (2)
  • Leica microtome for paraffin sectioning
  • MMI CellCut laser microdissection system
  • Pelco 101 Vibratome
  • Leica EM AFS2 freeze substitution system
  • 2 stand-alone PC-based computer platforms with Nikon Elements, Zeiss Zen Blue, and Volocity by Quorum Technologies and Huygens image analysis software by Scientific Volume Imaging.


1. Technical Services
The core will perform conventional immunofluorescence microscopy, confocal microscopy, live-cell imaging, conventional electron microscopy and EM immunogold labeling, tissue sectioning, tissue fixation, and computer-based image analysis and quantification. In some cases, investigators will provide their own stained tissues/cell for imaging, while in others the Core will perform all services from fixation and sectioning, to staining and imaging.
2. Training Services
The core technicians will also provide training to high-frequency users who wish to invest the substantial time necessary for learning to use the equipment proficiently (with the exception of the electron microscope).
3. Consultation Services
Core personnel will be available for consultation in the use of the different microscopy techniques, and to provide technical advice, such as the different fixation techniques that enable antibodies to detect their antigens, data analysis, experimental design, etc.
4. Development for Core Enhancement 
Dr. Dennis Brown and the advisory committee will continually explore new techniques to be offered as part of the core service.