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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Waisman IDD Models Core Confocal Renewal


The Waisman Center IDD Models Core is part of a P50-funded Intellectual and Developmental Disability Research Center (IDDRC), which focuses on  research in developmental disabilities. The core was designed to provide essential technology to several labs focused on neuroscience and stem cell biology in the Waisman Center, and also serves users from across campus.

Laser Scanning Confocal Microscopy (LSCM) is a critical resource for cellular neuroscience and well-established method for assessing cellular morphology and localizing specific proteins and other biological molecules. Confocal microscopy is important in the research of the neurobiology of developmental diseases and discovery of therapeutic targets for the treatment of neurological mental disorders such as Rett syndrome, autism and fragile X syndrome.

This project seeks to replace the core’s existing laser scanning confocal microscope with a new system. Confocal microscopy systems have advanced considerably with increased speed, sensitivity and resolution improvements. Advances in confocal microscopy now make possible to image deeper into thick tissue as well as resolve smaller cellular features using ‘super resolution’. In addition, state-of-the-art image processing methods have recently incorporated advanced software algorithms that facilitate the extraction of quantitative information from image data. The new confocal system will be an image source for critical quantitative assessments.


John Svaren, professor of comparative biosciences, affiliate at the Waisman Center and director of the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) Models Core


Xinyu Zhao, professor of neuroscience, co-director of the IDD Models Core and director of the Rodent Models subcore


Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) Models Core