Advanced microscopy is essential for studying developmental cell biology—how molecules organize cells, and how cells form tissues. Professor Tony Harris has received funding from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation‘s John R Evans Leaders Fund to purchase a cutting-edge spinning disk confocal microscope to advance his research into how cytoskeletal networks form and function to shape cells and tissues. Combining microscopy with genetic manipulations possible in the Drosophila fruit fly, the lab of Prof Tony Harris at the University of Toronto makes seminal discoveries of how the early embryo cleaves into many cells, how cell-cell junctions organize for connecting cells into tissues, and how tissues contract or stretch for Drosophila embryogenesis.

The insights from images acquired with this advanced microscope system will allow dissection of specific molecular regulators of cytoskeletal networks as well as insights into how distinct networks impact each other, the cell surface, and cell-cell junctions for multicellular development. This cutting edge fundamental research is relevant to human diseases, regenerative medicine, bioengineering, and materials science.

In using this technology to resolve their research questions, lab members will gain skills useful for careers in scientific research, health and teaching professions, as well as the biotechnology and scientific publishing sectors. Replacing an existing microscope that still runs Windows XP, the new system will provide advanced imaging technology for the next 13-14 years.