Zeiss LSM5Live Confocal
In medical research, the ability of researchers to visualise biological mechanisms and behaviours is integral to gaining insights into how diseases develop, spread, and respond to treatment.
Advanced imaging technology, combined with powerful computational resources, allow scientists to generate images of biological systems, including live tissues. Optical microscopy has become one of the most powerful tools in medical research.

Imaging at the Institute

Imaging involves multiple processes to make biological mechanisms and events visible. At the Institute we have various imaging technologies, such as confocal widefield fluorescence, two photon, and bioluminescence microscopy. The Institute also has a high content screening instrument, and extensive computational tools for image processing and analysis including two- , three- and four dimensional data visualisation.

These technologies support researchers by:

  • Creating data rich images of biological samples
  • Enabling analysis and quantification or a range of properties of the sample, for example cell size and density, cell motility, tumor size and morphology, protein expression and localisation.
  • Allowing direct comparison of the effects of drug treatments on various diseases and infections
  • Providing a suite of technologies allowing the examination of sub-cellular proteins all the way through to whole animal effects.

Illustrating the unseeable

Imaging has played an important role in advancing research at the Institute.



​​ Kathy PottsImaging technology can show us the complex network of vessels carrying platelet-forming cells through the body. In this example, a stain was applied to visualise the platelet-forming cells and vasculature, then the sample was chemically cleared before imaging on a LSM780 confocal microscope.

This image has helped our researchers to understand the development of blood vessels and to find cures for blood related diseases, and has been false colored for artistic effect.



 Clare WeedenA single lung stem cell multiplies to form a ball of cells, or a sphere as shown in this image.  

This image was also produced using the Zeiss LSM780 confocal microscope, with multiple images taken at different levels throughout the dense colony.

Identifying and culturing lung stem cells, has helped to develop a broader understanding of how the lung functions, and how diseases such as lung cancer develop.



 Kimberly MorganA rapidly growing zebrafish liver has been coloured according to the depth of each layer within the organ. Using two-photon microscopy, researchers were able to measure the full 3-dimensional volume of the liver without removing it from the fish.

Images such as these help to understand the factors that control growth, pointing researchers towards new treatments for liver cancer. 



Leading edge equipment capabilities

The Institute’s imaging lab provides precision imaging across a broad scale, from single cells and tissue slices to whole organisms using both fluorescence and bioluminescence imaging. Our state-of-the-art microscopy equipment includes three-dimensional views of cell and tissue structure or preclinical imaging systems to perform whole animal imaging.

Imaging staff work closely with researchers to design and execute optical imaging to advance discoveries. 

Access to the lab services and equipment is available to partner research organisations and collaborators.


Dr Joanna Groom

Dr Joanna Groom at a microscope
Laboratory Head

Dr Kelly Rogers

Dr Kelly Rogers
Head, Imaging Laboratory
Associate Professor Edwin Hawkins with imaging equipment

Associate Professor Edwin Hawkins and his team have answered the longstanding question of how leukaemia survives chemotherapy, bringing the world closer to more effective blood cancer treatments.​

Dr James Murphy and Dr Isabelle Lucet in the lab

Dr James Murphy and Dr Isabelle Lucet have created a 3D image of a key cancer protein, a finding which could be used to develop new cancer treatments.

Alan Cowman sits on a desk, Justin Boddey stands beside him. Behind Cowman is a computer screen showing the 3D image.

The first three-dimensional image capturing a critical malaria ‘conductor’ protein could lead to the development of a new class of antimalarial drugs.

ACRF sign outside laboratory

Australian cancer researchers will gain access to first-in-Australia technology through new funding from the Australian Cancer Research Foundation