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Imaging cores
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These pages list our core facilities by areas of focus. These are brief profiles of the cores; to find more detailed information on each core, including location, contact information, and equipment lists, please check out their facility overview in their listing in our searchable database.

The UNC Imaging Cores and Resources Page introduces a range of methodologies available on Campus ranging from light and electron microscopy to flow cytometry to image analysis techniques. These methods can be used on specimens ranging from molecules to cells to whole animals including humans.

Light Microscopy

The Microscopy Services Laboratory is a cost recovery center open to all UNC researchers. It has two components: Electron Microscopy and Light Microscopy.
The Microscopy Services Laboratory will consult with you about your project, advise on experimental design and sample preparation, and train you to take images. We have experience with confocal, light-sheet, widefield fluorescence, darkfield, and polarization microscopy. Tiling, multi-day live-cell experiments, FRAP, FRET, spectral imaging and other experimental designs are available

The Hooker Imaging Core is a research facility providing state-of-the-art confocal and wide-field microscopy systems. The high resolution light microscopy systems are now augmented with a Zeiss Airyscan super-resolution sensor. There is also a transmission electron microscope with sample preparation services with training available.

The Hooker Imaging Core is open to all users in the University and Corporate community on a fee basis. For the infrequent, untrained user, the Imaging Facility provides a completely assisted technical support service. Trained users work independently with on-site support. A significant effort is devoted to training investigators who require microscopy techniques to advance their projects

The The Neuroscience Microscopy Core provides a full spectrum of advanced systems for cellular and molecular imaging of in vitro and in vivo samples. The Core has multiple state-of-the-art confocal microscopes that are equipped for fast and high-resolution scanning of large areas with tiling and stitching capabilities, imaging live cells and tissues with incubation and CO2, and super-resolution and deconvolution modules for high-resolution imaging. These single photon confocals are complemented by a two-photon microscope set-up for imaging of live animals and large fixed tissues with high resolution optical sectioning. The Core also features widefield fluorescence and color imaging microscopes that can perform integrated analysis and acquisition for high content imaging experiments and can image tissues in live animals in situ with macro to micro imaging resolution. In addition to providing access to high resolution imaging technologies, the Microscopy Core also implements new imaging technologies, and provides training, consultation, data analysis, image processing, and centralized technical expertise to support the imaging needs of scientists in the UNC community. This core facility also features two high-end workstations (512GB of RAM, 12 and 14 Cores each, and multiple powerful GPUs) custom-designed for efficient processing and analysis of very large data sets.

Electron Microscopy

The Microscopy Services Laboratory is a cost recovery center open to all UNC researchers. It has two components: Electron Microscopy and Light Microscopy.
The Microscopy Services Laboratory will consult with you about your project, can prepare your samples, take images for you or train you to take images. Our services include SEM prep, embedding, ultrathin sections, negative staining and immunoEM. Transmission and scanning electron microscopy available.


Cryo-electron Microscopy (Cryo-EM)

The CryoEM Core Facility provides researchers access and technical assistance with all aspects of cryoEM including consultation, specimen preparation, and training on use of the Talos Arctica transmission electon microscope for screening and high resolution data collection for single-particle cryoEM


Flow Cytometry

The UNC Flow Cytometry Core Facility provides state-of-the-art flow cytometry analysis instrumentation and cell sorting services. The facility offers single cell sorting for downstream applications such as cell culture as well as genomic and proteomic analysis. Nine analytic cytometers and four cell sorters provide a spectrum of applications from simple screening of fluorescent protein expression on the iQue Screener PLUS to cellular image analysis on the Amnis ImageStreamX. The CyAn and Attune cytometers provide ‘entry level’ data acquisition while the LSR II and LSR Fortessa offer higher complexity acquisition. The Fluidigm Helios CyTOF Mass cytometer offers high parameter data acquisition. All staff members are CCy-certified and provide training to all users on the cytometers and for cell sorting on a limited basis. BSL-2 cell sorting is run exclusively by flow core staff and requires additional biosafety documentation. Training on the basics of Flow Cytometry experimental design is required for all users. We offer additional advanced training on specific topics throughout the year in a variety of venues. The core holds site licenses for several data analysis programs including FlowJo, FCS Express and Cytobank.

Animal Imaging

Biomedical Research Imaging Center (BRIC) Small Animal Imaging Facility (SAIF)provides various animal imaging services to facilitate biomedical research at UNC and beyond. Non-invasive in-vivo animal imaging provided by the core has been critical in many research fields including neurological study, cancer research, pharmaceutical development, etc. The goal of SAIF is to develop and offer advanced imaging technologies with state-of-the-art instrumentation and experienced staff to assist investigators in a wide range of applications in biomedical research. To date, the SAIF core houses twelve major pieces of equipment for animal imaging, including two MRI, one MR/PET, one PET/CT, one SPECT/CT, two microCT, three optical imaging, and two ultrasound imaging systems. The facility has become the most complete animal imaging facility regional-wise. We have expertise on imaging small animals such as rats and mice, as well as bigger animals like cat and dogs. The facility is open to all users and accepts work from external entities.

Human Imaging

Biomedical Research Imaging Center (BRIC): Human Imaging Facility provides research imaging services utilizing 3T Magnetic Resonance (MR) and 3T MR/PET (Positron Emission Tomography) whole body scanners. The facility is located one block south of UNC Hospitals and is 100% dedicated to research with a staff experienced in research imaging studies including fMRI and infant sleep studies. The facility offers researchers convenient daytime hours for scheduling, easy and free parking for subjects and assistance setting up imaging protocols.Both scanner rooms contain ancillary equipment for patient studies including: MR compatible monitoring system for BP and pulse oximetry,and visual presentation/responding systems for functional MR studies and for subject entertainment. The facility also has a mock scanner available for training subjects undergoing MR studies. The mock scanner has a visual presentation and computer setup to simulate the scanner room experience for research subjects.The facility is open to all users and does accept work from external entities.

Developmental Neuroimaging Laboratory, Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities provides consultation and support for all stages of design and implementation of neuroimaging studies, and provides access to well-established methods for the acquisition and analysis of MR data. The DNL is also responsible for the development of novel neuroimaging methods to insure the most technologically advanced and efficient data acquisition parameters that would also address particular challenges posed by studying immature of developing neural systems.
Brain imaging has become an important and indispensable tool for the non-invasive analysis of human brain function and structure. In particular, MRI is especially well suited for the study of children because it is non-invasive, does not involve radiation and therefore can be repeated within short periods of time, thus enabling longitudinal investigations.

Slide Imaging

The Translational Pathology Laboratory provides sophisticated digital pathology platforms and study design support to all UNC investigators to enhance translational research. The Lab provides a centralized facility on campus to qualitatively and quantitatively analyze fresh, frozen and formalin-fixed paraffin embedded tissues and cell lines using morphology-based assays for DNA, RNA, and proteins. Technologies include the Aperio Spectrum Web-Based Image Management system and an Aperio ImageScope Image Viewer.

Other Imaging Facilities

Chapel Hill Analytical and Nanofabrication Lab (CHANL) operates as a fee-for-service shared instrumentation laboratory open to UNC researchers from all departments as well as to researchers from other universities, government labs, and industry.
Objectives of CHANL:
• Provide cost-effective access to analytical and nanofabrication instrumentation that would not otherwise be available in individual research labs
• Provide expertise and technical resources, to assist researchers in designing experimental plans, acquiring appropriate data, and interpreting data
• Promote education by working closely with students and postdocs to provide instrument training and hands on experience
• Foster an environment of collaborative research that extends beyond departmental boundaries

Biomedical Research Imaging Center (BRIC): Image Storage and Analysis core serves to develop new tools for image analysis and to support the image storage and analysis needs of scientists who use the BRIC facilities. So far, this core has developed various novel image segmentation, registration, and multivariate analysis methods, with applications to brain (including MCI, AD, Schizophrenia, and neonate study), heart, breast cancer, and prostate cancer. The facility is open to all users and accepts work from external entities.

Computer Integrated Systems for Microscopy and Manipulation (CISMM) is an NIH supported laboratory that designs and builds microscope-based systems for applying, and assessing the effects of, forces on cells and living systems. The lab is located in Chapman Hall in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and are affiliated with the new Department of Applied Physical Sciences. The group includes Biologists, Physicists, and Computer Scientists, and Biomedical engineering and Physics students. Systems developed or modified in the lab include microfluidics devices, magnetic tweezers (“3DFM”) systems, systems to assess the rheology of mucus or other biofluids (microbead or cone and plate), Traction Force Membranes, and Atomic Force Microscope – based vertical light sheet imaging/force assessment. The lab is open to collaborations with labs on campus, and NIH-supported groups from around the country.

The Department of Biology operates a Departmental Core Imaging Facility for its researchers that includes a ZEISS LSM880 inverted confocal with AiryScan, a Zeiss LSM710 confocal, and a Nikon N-SIM/N-STORM super-resolution system with TIRF. (

NCSU Analytical Instrumentation Facility Cryo-Scanning Electron Microscope. The NCSU AIF recently acquired a Jeol JSM-7600F cryo SEM, outfitted with a cryogenic transfer system and stage for high magnification imaging of volatile or beam-sensitive samples. * UNC and NCSU have a cross usage agreement which allows investigators from either institution access to each others’ core facilities at internal rates.

Link to searchable core facilities database

Back to Categorized Core Listing Page