HCI - A High-end All-In Live Imaging Platform
Dr. Robert Judson-Torres received his Ph.D. from the University of California, San Francisco in Biomedical Sciences in 2012 for his discovery and mechanistic dissection of microRNAs that mediate somatic cell reprogramming. He was subsequently awarded the NIH Director’s Early Independence Award. He initiated an independent research program as a Sandler Fellow in the UCSF Program for Breakthrough Biomedical Research.
From 2014-2019, Dr. Judson-Torres headed his research group at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. He pioneered the use of CRISPR/Cas9 engineering in primary human melanocytes as a model system for melanoma initiation and focused on identifying the transcriptional programs that precede tumorigenesis. In 2019, he joined the faculty of the Department of Dermatology and the Huntsman Cancer Institute of the University of Utah.
Dr. Robert Judson-Torres
Dr Judson-Torres said "The Livecyte is an inverted live imaging & analysis platform that couples quantitative phase imaging with fluorescent imaging. The platform integrates the full pipeline - it contains the scope, the environmental chamber, the QPI and fluorescence optics, separate computers for live image acquisition, analysis, and data storage, and software for acquisition and analysis. This integration is one major strength of the system. To be clear - it is not an "out of the box / plug and play" platform, exactly - as it is too complex of a system. Instead, as part of the purchase, Phasefocus sends a scientist to assemble and calibrate the rig. As a consequence, the system uses high-end components and is both customizable and upgradable.
"As a second strength, we have enjoyed incredible customer service starting with this initial set up and also continuing through the 2+ years we've been using the equipment. This includes both a responsive team for troubleshooting technical issues, as well as helping with custom analyses. A third strength is the user-friendliness of both the acquisition and the analysis softwares. In both cases, the software is intuitive and holds your hand for setting up standard live imaging and analysis experiments. These interfaces are great for standard questions like comparing cell proliferation, growth or motility.
"In addition, both softwares are also 'deep', in that with training, more advanced set-up and more advanced analyses can also be conducted. The customization of the system is also nice - we have ours set up with a large range of objectives and 7 channels of fluorescence, all of which as desired. We have run into a variety of technical issues, but the Phasefocus team has worked with us to solve all of them at no charge. In comparison, having used other high end imaging systems, I would say we have not run into more than the usual technical issues.
"Bottom line, this is a high end fully integrated 'plate-to-data' live-QPI/fluorescence imaging platform, with a user-friendly interface, ability to run complex analyses, and a knowledgeable, friendly and responsive after sales care team. It is probably one of the more expensive QPI platforms out there, but remains an excellent value if you need the capabilities it brings to the table.
Regarding uses for the platform, we use it to image large-well plates (6-wells) down to 96-wells. The former if we want to look deeply into a few conditions, the latter for screens. All plates we have tried are easy to set up. When setting up any plate, there is an intuitive and easy interface that allows us to perform live 2x-4x scanning to find and place ROIs. Multiple objectives / channels can be used for ROIs in the same well / experiment. This lets us identify the exact cells we are interested in monitoring. We routinely perform live imaging for 2-6 days and have set up experiments as long as 14 days. Image processing occurs as images are acquired so analysis can start shortly after acquisition is complete. The QPI allows us to visualize all cells, regardless of what fluorescence they are expressing. We use this primarily to track expression levels of live reporters over time, monitor how uniform or heterogeneous expression is, how it changes with cell cycle, over generations, with morphologic / behavior changes, etc. It has proven very useful for primary cultures or situations where we do not want to select for clonal populations. The default cell segmentation does a great job, even for morphological complex cells, and it can also be tweaked as necessary. Same for cell tracking - it does a good default job and provides the tools for editing as needed. The analyses allow for a quick read of differences in proliferation, mass, motility, and fluorescence. We also use the more advanced tools provided to look at heterogeneity and relationships between QPI features and fluorescence."