The Optical Biology Core Facility (OBC), founded in 1994, is directed by Dr. Rahul Warrior, Professor, Department of Developmental & Cell Biology, and is managed by Dr. Adeela Syed (Confocal core), Dr. Mihaela Balu (NLOM) and Dr. Jennifer Atwood (FCS core) .   The Optical Biology Core Facility is comprised of 3 main components:

1- A self use facility located in 4443 McGaugh Hall at the UC Irvine Campus houses:

Three Confocals: Zeiss LSM 780 and LSM 700, and a Leica SP8 confocal microscope that can image live cells, fixed samples, model organisms, single molecules and anything in between.  The Zeiss LSM 780 has a two photon laser for deep tissue imaging and both the LSM 780 and Leica SP8 have 6 single photon lasers for imaging all fluorophores (405nm, 458, 488, 514, 561, and 633nm). The LSM 700 has 2 detectors, and 4 laser lines (405, 488, 555, and 633). A FLIM (Fluorescence Lifetime Microscopy) detector for studying molecules based on their fluorescence lifetime provides a way of studying things such as metabolic states of cancer cells compared to normal cells and any situation that would typically employ FRET is also available on the LMS 780. 

Light Sheet:  Zeiss Z1 Light sheet microscope uses 2 objective lenses perpendicular to each other to excite/detect the sample. The illumination optics create a single sheet of light through a plane of the sample, which is then detected with a CCD camera. This allows for rapid imaging of thick tissue samples, with very little bleaching and phototoxicity. The Z1 lightsheet can image both live samples (in aqueous media,) and cleared tissues (in 1.33/1.45 refractive index media respectively), and has 4 laser lines for excitation (405nm, 488nm, 561nm, and 633nm) and 2 cameras. Additional details can be found on the Light sheet page

Images acquired on any of the confocals can be further deconvolved to reach super-resolution quality using the Huygens Deconvolution Software.

An Imaris, Arivis, Huygens, and  Volocity image analysis software packages are available on a high end work stations in the McGaugh Hall facility and it is set up so it can be used from individual office computers.  Training is provided and targeted workshops occur routinely.

Users can sign up for time on the scopes 24hours/day, 7 days a week.  Recharges are $20/hr for the Zeiss 780 and SP8 and $15/hr 700 respectively and half that for off-peak hours (i.e. outside of 8-6, M-F), and $20/hour (and maximum of $60/day) for the Zeiss Z1 Light sheet.  Dr. Syed manages this facility and provides training and on-site trouble shooting as well as experimental advice. 

2- The Nonlinear Optical Microscopy (NLOM) Lab located in the Beckman Laser Institute and Medical Clinic

This facility is equipped with state-of-the-art commercial and in-house optical microscopy platforms for biological and biomedical imaging. The imaging platforms provided as shared resources in this facility are:

  • Leica SP8 Falcon + coherent anti-Stokes Raman Scattering (CARS) for confocal and nonlinear optical microscopy. This is a customized commercial imaging platform that includes the following modalities: confocal and two-photon excited fluorescence (TPEF), second harmonic generation (SHG), CARS and fluorescence lifetime microscopy.
  • Zeiss LSM 510 for conventional optical microscopy as well as confocal and nonlinear optical microscopy (imaging modalities include confocal, TPEF and SHG microscopy)

The NLOM Lab provides collaborative opportunities in technology development to improve multiphoton microscopy (MPM) based imaging with large fields of view and rapid scanning for monitoring skin therapies, non-invasive diagnosis of skin cancers and other skin conditions.

Dr. Mihaela Balu directs the NLOM Lab and Amanda Durkin, an Instrumentation Specialist, provides consultation and protocol development for investigators seeking new imaging applications.

Users are supported by extensive shop facilities that allow construction and modification of imaging platforms (

3. The Flow Cytometry Facility (FCF) is located in 3101 Hewitt hall.  

The Institute for Immunology now offers latest in flow cytometry services at our Flow Core Facility. The facility provides the latest technology and professional technical assistance for flow cytometric analysis and sorting. Our suite of multi-parameter flow cytometers are well equipped for fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) and emerging flow cytometry assays. Dr. Jennifer Atwood manages the facility and is available for support and training.