The Histology Core

Director: Kimberlie Burns, Histotechnologist, ASCP


The Histology Core facility was established in 1989 to provide histology services to the investigators associated with the Marsico Lung Institute. The objective of the Core is to provide high quality light and electron microscopy services in support of the research goals of our investigators.


Figure 1


Light microscopy services include: prosection, tissue fixation, processing, embedding, sectioning, staining and cover slipping of paraffin, frozen and soft plastic tissue sections. In addition to the routine H&E (Hematoxylin & Eosin) and AB-PAS ( Alcian Blue- Periodic Acid Schiffs) stain, we provide a wide array of special stains.

The histology core also provides expertise in all aspects of transmission and scanning electron microscopy. Services include: specialized and routine fixation, tissues processing, ultramicrotomy, staining, photomicrograph production, and analysis. Access to a high pressure freezer and automated freeze substitution is available as well.

A highlight of the core facility is our specialized procedure for histological evaluation of airway cells grown on porous membrane supports. This technique was featured at a workshop given by Kimberlie Burns at the national Society for Histotechnology Region III meeting in 2007.

Histology Core Personnel

The Core is directed and operated by Kimberlie Burns, a full-time histotechnologist, ASCP. Kim has more than 25 years of experience in the field and has worked in industry, hospitals and academic settings.  Kim graduated with a BS in biology from the Pennsylvania State University in 1983.  Kim is the co-author of two book chapters and a second author on numerous scientific publications (see below).

The Core director, Kim, oversees the overall Core operations and assists in the planning, interpretation and evaluation of specimens.  The facility is equipped with technological instrumentation including a Sakara Automated Tissue Processor, Leica embedding station, cryostat and microtomes and vibratome, and an RMC ultra microtome.

 Kim Burns

 Kimberlie Burns, Director


  1. Livraghi-Butrico A, Grubb BR, Wilkinson K, Volmer AS, Burns KA, Evans C, O'Neal WK, Boucher RC. Contribution of mucus concentration and secreted mucins Muc5ac and Muc5b to the pathogenesis of muco-obstructive lung disease. Mucosal Immunol. 2017 Mar;10(2):395-407. doi: 10.1038/mi.2016.63. PMID: 27435107.
  2. Yu D, Davis RM, Aita M, Burns KA, Clapp PW, Gilmore RC, Chua M, O'Neal WK, Schlegel R, Randell SH, Boucher RC. Characterization of rat meibomian gland ion and fluid transport. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2016 Apr 1;57(4):2328-43. doi: 10.1167/iovs.15-17945. PMID: 27127933.
  3. Kesimer M, Scull M, Brighton B, DeMaria G, Burns K, O'Neal W, Pickles R, Sheehan J: Characterizaqtion of exosome-like vesicles released from human tracheobronchial ciliated epithelium: a possible role in innate defense. FASEB J. 2009;23:1858-68.
  4. Tuvim MJ, Mospan AR, Burns KA, Chua M, Mohler PJ, Melicoff E, Adachi R, Ammar-Aouchiche Z, Davis CW, Dickey BF: synaptotagmin 2 couples mucin granules exocytosis to Ca2+ signaling from endoplasmic reticulum. J Biol Chem. 2009 Apr 10; 284(15):8781-7.
  5. Randell S, Burns K, Boucher R: Asthma and COPD: Basic Mechanisms and Clinical Management, second edition: Academic Press, 2009, pp 201-210.
  6. Grubb BR, Rogers TD, Kulaga HM, Burns K, Wonsetler R, Reed RR, Ostrowski LE: CF mice exhibit progressive functional and morphological defects in olfactory epithelia. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2007 Aug;293(2):C574-83.
  7. Fulcher ML, Gabriel S, Burns K, Yankaskas J, Randell S: Methods in molecular medicine, vol. 107: Humana Press Inc, Totowa NJ, 2005, pp 183-206.
  8. Schoch KG, Lori A, Burns KA, Eldred T, Olsen J, Randell S: A subset of mouse tracheal epithelial basal cells generates large colonies in vitro. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2004 Apr;286(4):L631-42.
  9. Stonebraker J, Wagner D, Lefensty RW, Burns K, Gendler SJ, Bergelson JM, Boucher RC, O’Neal WK, Pickles RJ: Glycocalyx restricts adenoviral vector access to apical receptors expressed on respiratory epithelium in vitro and in vivo: role for tethered mucins as barriers to lumenal infection. J Virol. 2004 Dec;78(24):13755-68.
  10. Schwab U, Leigh M, Ribeiro C, Yankaskas J, Burns K, Gilligan P, Sokol P, Boucher R: Patterns of epithelial cell invasion by different species of the Burkholderia cepacia complex in well-differentiated human airway epithelia. Infect Immun. 2002 Aug.;70 (8):4547-55.
  11. Neuringer I, Aris R, Burns K, Bartolotta T, Chalermskulrat W, Randell S: Epithelial kinetics in mouse heterotropic tracheal allografts. Am J Transplant. 2002;2:410-9.
  12. Clarke LL, Burns KA, Bayle JY, Boucher RC, Van Scott MR: Sodium- and chloride conductive pathways in cultured mouse tracheal epithelium. Am J Physiol. 1992;263:519-25.
  13. Burns K: Rat salivary gland stained with toludine blue, pH 4.5. Shandon Corporation yearly calendar, 1987.

Contact Information

Kimberlie Burns, Director
2229C Marsico Hall
Campus Box #7248
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC 27599
(919) 966-8953
Fax:(919) 966-5178