New Microscope Lab Opens

Through lease, imaging equipment will be replaced every three years

Administrators and scientists hailed the unveiling of a facility yesterday that will boast 12 state-of-the-art microscopes shared by researchers across the University.

University President Drew G. Faust and Dean of Science Jeremy Bloxham cut the ribbon on the Center for Biological Imaging, a facility that, in partnership with optical manufacturer Carl Zeiss MicroImaging, will offer leased imaging equipment updated every three years.

“Not only does the Center for Biological Imaging have state-of-the-art Zeiss imaging equipment, it will continue to have that equipment under the very special agreement that Zeiss and MCB have agreed upon,” Faust said.

The regular replacement of the microscopes in the Center—a dark, L-shaped room on the second floor of the Biological Laboratories with equipment lining its perimeter—led Faust, Molecular and Cellular Biology Chair Catherine Dulac, and Carl Zeiss MicroImaging President James A. Sharp to characterize it as an “evergreen” facility.

Additionally, a Zeiss employee will be on site starting in June to help researchers use the machinery, according to Sharp.


To use the Center, graduate students, research fellows, and faculty members will have to pay roughly $2000 per year in a plan that MCB Professor Jeff W. Lichtman likened to a gym membership.

Undergraduates affiliated with a Harvard lab will be able to use the facility at no cost.

Lichtman, who was involved in constructing the plan, said the arrangement will allow for a financially sustainable replacement of microscopes, which are quickly rendered out-of-date by technological innovation.

In addition to cycling new microscopes in for old ones, Zeiss may use the Center to pilot new equipment, Sharp said.

“We will be able to simulate, when we come up with something new, whether it will have value,” Sharp said.

Deborah McEwan, a graduate student in the MCB department who is about to receive her degree, said that bringing the microscopes together in one room will allow all researchers to be aware of the resources available to them.

Katherine W. Rogers, another MCB graduate student, said that the open-air nature of a room with 12 microscopes as opposed to the usual one or two will promote collaboration.

“It is a really great resource for everyone,” Rogers said. “The fact that there are no walls is great because if there’s someone over here and I have a question, I can just wander over and talk to them.”

—Staff writer Naveen N. Srivatsa can be reached at


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