Advanced Imaging & Tissue Analysis Core

The mission of the DDRCC  is to promote collaborative, multidisciplinary research focused on interactions between host and environment in digestive disease. Tissue imaging and image analysis techniques are essential tools for visualizing the spatial relationships of different cell types, and studying cellular components in the liver and gastrointestinal tract. State-of-the-art histologic, immunohistochemical, tissue imaging and image analysis are required for studies of human GI and liver disease and animal-based human disease models.

Advanced Imaging & Tissue Analysis Core (AITAC) personnel have extensive expertise in morphologic analysis and imaging of digestive tissues.


Deborah C. Rubin, MD

Director, Advanced Imaging & Tissue Analysis Core
William B. Koontz Professor of Medicine
Professor of Developmental Biology



Ta-Chiang Liu, MD, PhD

Co-Director, Advanced Imaging & Tissue Analysis Core

Associate Professor, Pathology & Immunology


The AITAC provides comprehensive histologic and immunohistochemical support, advanced microscopic imaging and image analysis services.

The AITAC has two components.

  1. The Tissue Analysis Component performs animal and human tissue embedding, sectioning, routine and special staining, and immunohistochemical analyses, and provides training in all services.
  2. The Advanced Image Analysis Component provides access to and training in routine light, fluorescent and inverted fluorescent microscopy and quantitative image analysis. We provide access to in vivo imaging in the In Vivo Imaging Core, utilizing an investigator-built 2-photon microscope with complete image support for live cell and in vivo organ and tissue imaging. We also provide access to electron microscopy (EM) with a full range of transmission EM services.

Specific services offered

Investigators are encouraged to contact Deborah Rubin for information about services listed, for potential new services or for other consultative information. See our fees for service (PDF).

The Tissue Analysis Component is located in the CSRB North Tower Addition Room 924. This component handles and processes all types of tissues (including human), makes paraffin or OCT (frozen) tissue blocks, performs sectioning, a wide variety of special stains, and single, double, triple and quadruple immunohistochemical procedures. We have developed detailed protocols for optimization of immunohistochemical procedures for antibodies provided by investigators. See a list of antibodies (pdf) that we have worked with in the past. We can work with you to establish immunostaining conditions for new antibodies, on GI tissues, liver, or other organs.

To request services, create a profile and fill out the request on: 

The Advanced Image Analysis Component provides access to and free training in the use of multiple microscopes and image analysis software. We have a Zeiss Axiovert microscope with Apotome 2 apparatus that allows 4 color optical sectioning with Z-stack reconstruction, a Zeiss Axioskop 2 MOT microscope with full light and immunofluorescent capabilities (4 color fluorescence), and a polarizing filter for crystal analysis, attached to an Axiocam MRM Digital camera that takes black and white images that can be analyzed for multilabel immunofluorescence, and a Zeiss Axioskop 40 microscope attached to an Axiocam MRC digital color camera. Computers contain Zeiss Axiovision image analysis software as well as Nuance image analysis equipment and software. The equipment mentioned above is in the Clinical Sciences Research Building (CSRB) North Tower room 924 which has been recently renovated to provide a separate light-controlled room for microscopy only. Electron microscopy is offered via the Laboratory for Electron Microscopy Sciences (LEMS) in the Dept. of Cell Biology in the South Building, administered by Drs. Phyllis Hanson, John Heuser and Bob Mecham. Investigators may train with Marilyn Levy, senior EM technologist, in the use of EM scopes and photography. Equipment includes a JEOL 1400 microscope with a high resolution AMT digital camera and a JEOL 100cx microscope with AMT digital camera. This is a fee for service facility.

The In Vivo Imaging Core (IVIC; see houses a 2-photon microscopy facility, located in the CSRB room 4448. Users have access to 2-photon microscopy with multidimensional image acquisition, data rendering, single cell tracking and data analysis. Two-photon microscopy permits imaging of single-cell dynamics in native 3D tissue environments, and with appropriate fluorescent reporters, can serve as an in vivo assay for many aspects of cell activation and function. The IVIC’s personnel assist with the design and characterization of reporter mouse models and assists in the development of improved methods for the analysis of cell dynamics in vivo. This Core is supervised by Dr. Mark Miller.

In order to promote the outstanding services provided by the Washington University Advanced Imaging and Tissue Analysis Core, DDRCC Members (FULL Membership Level and/or Current Pilot and Feasibility Award Recipients) are eligible to receive a $1,000.00 reimbursement toward AITAC services, renewable annually, should the following criterion be met:

  1. Full Members and/or Pilot and Feasibility (P&F) Awardees should submit a brief description outlining the intended use of this supplement and its relationship to DDRCC themes, utilizing the Request for Service Form (pdf).
  2. This Request for Service From will be reviewed by the DDRCC Executive Committee for approval. Awards will be given on a first-come, first-serve basis, with priority consideration being given to P&F awardees. Awards will be tracked via the DDRCC web site.
  3. The DDRCC Administrative and Resource Access Core must be cited in all resulting abstracts, presentations or manuscripts (Grant #P30DK052574, AITAC Core).

Because the demand on services exceeds our core’s capacity, no new work will be accepted from non-DDRCC members. Job assignments will be prioritized by the membership criteria (full, associate). If you are interested in joining the Washington University School of Medicine’s Digestive Diseases Research Core Centers (DDRCC), please visit the Apply page for more information.