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Updates on the University COVID-19 response and operations available here.
Updates on the University COVID-19 response and operations available here.

A Voyage Into an Invisible World: How Modern Microscopes are Transforming Science

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

8:00 – 9:00 AM | PROGRAM

Carson Family Auditorium
The Rockefeller University
1230 York Avenue at East 66th Street



Titia de Lange, Ph.D.

Leon Hess Professor
Laboratory of Cell Biology and Genetics


Alison North, Ph.D.

Research Associate Professor
Senior Director, Bio-Imaging Resource Center

Ever since the invention of the microscope at the end of the 16th century, scientists have developed increasingly advanced instruments in an attempt to view life at its most fundamental levels. At The Rockefeller University, perhaps no one understands this drive better than Alison North. A cell biologist by training, Dr. North has run the Frits and Rita Markus Bio-Imaging Resource Center since 2000, developing it into one of the most comprehensive facilities for state-of-the-art scientific imaging in the world. During her tenure as director, Dr. North has trained and advised thousands of scientists from Rockefeller and other institutions on how to make the best possible use of the many optical microscopes in the Center. The images they capture not only yield significant data, but can be strikingly beautiful as well.

Today’s optical microscopes are better than ever at visualizing the minuscule components of cells, but their utility extends far beyond magnification. The Bio-Imaging Center’s microscopes employ finely tuned lasers, proteins engineered to glow in color when exposed to these light sources, and sophisticated software to build and analyze images. With these and other capabilities, the Center’s power-packed imaging systems can peer deeply into living, working cells. They can also produce three-dimensional views of complex neural networks, or sweep across broad swaths of tissue while focusing in on fine details. For her talk on March 6, Dr. North will introduce the innovations in optical imaging that are transforming research at Rockefeller on such diseases as cancer, autism, and obesity. She will also touch on how offshoots of research microscopy are revolutionizing medical technology; for example, the development of cellphone microscopes that can aid in clinical diagnoses around the world.

Alison North earned a B.A. in Natural Sciences from Cambridge University and a D.Phil. from Oxford University in Cell Biology. Dr. North’s images and movies have been exhibited worldwide, including in science exhibits at the International Center of Photography in New York and on the public television science series Nova. She has also acted as a judge for both the Olympus BioScapes and Nikon Small World photomicrography competitions.

Immediately following the lecture, Dr. North will lead a tour of the Bio-Imaging Resource Center. Space is limited– priority will be given to recent W&S donors. Please call ahead to register.