Translational Research Laboratories Confocal Microscope Core

The primary intent for the confocal core is to substantively advance the science of a selected group of NIH funded projects here in the Translational Research Building at the University of Pennsylvania.  The secondary goals with this new equipment include stimulating new collaborations in translational research across the disciplines here in the TRL and across the Penn campus and to advance the science for new translational research proposals to NIH. As a growing group of investigators, we will strive to meet the confocal imaging needs of all investigators here at the TRL and across the Penn campus, by ensuring optimal usage of confocal time.  To achieve this, a core facility to serve the research community was written into the shared instrument proposal.    

This confocal microscope was funded by NIH Shared Instruments Program, 1S10RR025566.

Core Director: Dr. Sigrid Veasey
Imaging Director: Dr. Yan Zhu  (Sleep Research Applications)

Associate Directors: Dr. Peter Bell (Gene Therapy Applications), Dr. Dima Goncharov (Pulmonary Research Applications) and Dr. Olivier Burton (Psychiatry Research Applications).

Confocal core admin



The core is equipped with a new Leica TCS SP5 Spectral Confocal System with AOBS Beam Splitter.

Leica TCS SP5 AOBS Filter Free Tunable Spectral Confocal Systemincluding:

  • Automated Inverted Stand DMI 6000 6 Position Fluo 
  • Optical Outfit with EL6000 Illumination & DIC, TLD Brightfield Detector and DIC Optics
  • Tunable Speed SP5 Scanning System 
  • Five Internal Spectral Detector Channels 
  • 543 HeNe, 594 HeNe, 633 HeNe & Argon and 405nm Diode Laser for UV - DAPI Excitation  (wavelength detection: 405-633nm)
  • Workstation PLUS with 2x LCD Display 
  • TMC Air Table 




The microscope is available to members of the Penn research community who have been registered and trained to use the microscope. A priority is given and slots reserved for the primary users identified in the awarded grant proposal.  Additional times are available.  Registered trained individuals may sign up for independent users time blocks; while individuals seeking assistance for optimizing images may sign up for supervised time blocks. An individual user may reserve one 2-hour block of time during daytime hours. If you have a special need to reserve more than a 2-hour block, please contact Dr. Zhu.

Scheduling is accomplished using a meeting room booking system. Penn key and password are required.

So the facility works well for everybody, we have the following rules.

Why rules?

Users then know how to operate the microscope properly, we know who is using the microscopes, training is free and tailored to your needs.

Always reserve the microscope using the online booking calendar.


This helps avoid conflicts and lets any user signed up later know the scope has been left on for them, helps TRL with billing.

Start on time . . . don't book excessive time . . . notify the
next user if you finish early

We try to get the most out of the scopes. It's not ideal if a scope is booked solidly all day but sits unused for an hour or two.

Check the online booking calendar at the end of your session; leave the system on if someone is booked within 2 hr for scanning confocals. Keep lasers in standby or unchecked whenever possible to prolong their life.

Turning lasers on and off reduces their lifetime. The procedures are designed to prolong the life of the components.

If you need to cancel your
session, please delete your reserved time on the booking calendar as far ahead as possible.

To discourage wasted time.

It is very helpful to us if you can report any problems with the scopes.

Any images left on the computer hard-drives are unsafe and may be deleted without warning. Store your images on a server or move the data to other media at the end of your session.

Please don't leave behind copies of your files because the servers/computers quickly get over-loaded by the volume of image files produced.



Training and education - All new users will receive some training for the confocal use. Please understand that training requires at the minimum 10 hours.  If you expect to use regularly this is worth the effort.  If you wish to occasionally have images taken, working with the core may work best for you. Contact Dr. Zhu to request training. Refresher courses and advanced training are available for users previously trained, and these will be posted on this site.

Advice - To ensure you get the most out of microscopy we are available for discussion about all aspects of your imaging - conceptual approaches, sample preparation, reagent purchases, image acquisition, troubleshooting and image processing and analysis. No question is too big or small; please contact us with any queries you have. All information is treated confidentially.

Collaboration - We are happy to have an active involvement in your research and provide intellectual and practical input towards the imaging aspects of your science. We are more than happy to perform imaging with you, to attend meetings with people involved in the project, and to read grant applications and drafts of papers.  Percent effort of individuals on funded projects must be respected.


Only registered users may schedule time on the microscope. If you are not a registered user, please contact the individual working in your lab or within your division/department on the list.  Others outside of TRL may contact Dr. Yan Zhu to set up supervised usage.

Olivier Berton
Gaoyuan Cao
Collin Challis

Holly Dow
Jeanine Jochems
Valerie Leitman
Pavel Ortinski
Lori Panossian
Jennifer H Schreiter
Catherine Steenstra
Fair Vassoler
Jianmei Xiong
Nicole Yohn
Jingxu Zhu
Yan Zhu

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