3D electron microscopy
The brain connectome is being unraveled in part by the ability to analyze the ultrastructure of neural circuits in 3D. These techniques include ATUM and Serial BlockFace Scanning Electron Microscopy. We use both techniques in our shop to understand gut sensory cells within the gut connectome.
Observing life in cells deep within organs was once a dream. This task is now possible thanks to advances in intra-vital microscopy and genetically encoded calcium reporters (GCaMP6s). Our lab has adapted these tools to the gut and built its own 2Photon system. We called THE WRAITH. This 2 Photon system is a Brucker Ultima Intravital set updesigned for reaching deep within the abdominal cavity and imaging those cells sensing nutrients in the living animal.
Viruses are powerful tools to deliver genetic material into cells. Our lab has the ability to produce and modify viral vectors based on AAV, lentivirus, and RABIES. We use them to map, manipulate, and record from neural circuits wiring the gut and the brain.
Classic electrophysiology has been used to study neurons and the circuits the form. We are using it to understand how food is transformed into electrical signals that excite nerves. We built a rig with this vision. We call it BUCEPHALUS. This beast is an upright Zeiss Axio Examiner Z1, Bucephalus is equipped with a Luigs Neumann automated stage and manipulators, a Multiclamp 700B and a Digidata 1500. It also has a powerful Hamamatzu Orca flash 4.0 for ultra-fast calcium imaging.
Automated Home Cage Behavioral Monitoring
Adequate time resolution of behavioral measurement is critical for understanding neural circuit function. We developed a custom TSE Phenomaster system with this vision. We call it THE TROJAN HORSE. This machine is equipped to simultaneously measure food, drink, body weight, and locomotor activity of individual mice in a home cage environment. We have also expanded its functionality to include optogenetic activation of specific individuals triggered by any of the measured parameters.