Penn Center for Musculoskeletal Disorders

Histology Core

Overview and Mission

The mission of the Penn Center for Musculoskeletal Disorders (PCMD) Histology Core is to provide comprehensive, high quality histology services to musculoskeletal researchers at the University of Pennsylvania
and the broader research community.

The Specific Aims of the core are:

  • To provide guidance and training on the capabilities, advantages, and disadvantages of the various methodologies to assess musculoskeletal tissue structure and composition through formal educational enrichment programs and one-on-one interactions.
  • To provide expertise and service for histological and histomorphometric assays of musculoskeletal tissues.
  • To develop new histologically-based techniques that will be applicable to musculoskeletal research.
  • To provide funding for development of new projects and collaborations and to develop preliminary and/or feasibility data for investigators.

Services Offered

The core offers a complete spectrum of services from sample preparation and processing, to sectioning, staining and analysis, with capabilities for paraffin, plastic and frozen histology. The core provides state of the art equipment in each of these areas, which can be accessed either on a self-service basis (upon completion of training) or a full-service basis through our full-time histology technician. Service fees are highly competitive, with significant discounts offered for PCMD members.

Services offered:

  • Consultation and protocol development (no charge)
  • Paraffin processing and embedding
  • Paraffin sectioning
  • Plastic sectioning
  • Frozen sectioning
  • Routine histochemical staining
  • Training in histology techniques

Histology Core Service Fees

If you are using the core for the first time, we highly recommend scheduling a meeting with one of the core co-directors and the core technician to discuss the scope of your project and specific needs.
Below are examples of tissue types routinely processed, sectioned and stained by the core.

Citing the core in your publications: “This study was supported by the Penn Center for Musculoskeletal Disorders Histology Core (NIH P30-AR06919)”.

We are very happy to provide letters of support for grant applications. To request a letter, please contact the core co-directors and provide the project title, a brief description of the project and core services you
propose to use.

Submitting Samples

To submit samples, download and complete the service request form using the link below. Bring the completed form with you to the core when you drop off your samples. Be sure to include any special instructions
on the request form. The service request for is not required for self-service equipment usage. An online submission form is under development and will be offered in the near future.

Histology Service request form


If you wish to use core equipment on a self-service basis, please contact Shereen Tamsen( to schedule training. Once training has been completed, you will be given permission to sign up to use equipment on a Google calendar. Sign up time is used to calculate usage fees.


Invoices for core usage are prepared and sent to Principal Investigators on a quarterly basis.

Seed Funds

The core is able to provide seed funds (up to $2000) to PCMD members who wish to use the core resources to undertake pilot studies and acquire preliminary data for a grant submission. To apply for seed funds, please send a 1 page application to the core co-directors with the following information:

  • Project title
  • Principal Investigator name
  • Specific Aims and brief project description
  • Core resources you propose to use
  • Budget
  • Strategy and timeline for leveraging extramural funding using these seed funds

Core Equipment

  • Four microtomes for paraffin sectioning*
  • Polycut microtome for plastic sectioning*
  • Cryostat microtome for frozen sectioning*
  • Automated paraffin tissue processor
  • Paraffin embedding center*
  • Twin-head microscope for slide viewing*

*Available for self-service usage upon completion of training.

Location and Core Personnel

The core is located in room 510 on the 5th floor of Stemmler Hall, within the Medical School of the University of Pennsylvania. Enter from Hamilton Walk.

Ling Qin

Ling Qin, Ph.D. (Plastic and Frozen Histology)
Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery
Phone: 215 898 6697
Office Location: 424A Stemmler Hall


Lachlan Smith, Ph.D. (Paraffin Histology)
Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery
Phone: 215 746 2169
Office Location: 424D Stemmler Hall


Shereen Tamsen
Phone: 215 746 0405
Office Location: 510B





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