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National Center for X-Ray Tomography

Carolyn Larabell, Ph.D.

Center Overview

The National Center for X-ray Tomography develops novel cellular imaging technologies for biological and biomedical research. In particular, the NCXT is developing soft x-ray tomography as a new tool for visualizing and quantifying the internal structure of whole, hydrated cells, and high-numerical aperture fluorescence microscopy for locating the position of specific cellular molecules. Data from these two imaging modalities can be combined to form a single, correlated imaging view of a cell. This work is supported by the NIH's National Center for Research Resources and the DOE Office of Biological and Environmental Research.

A major part of the NCXT effort has been directed towards the design and construction of XM-2, the world's first soft x-ray microscope for life science research. This new microscope is located at the Advanced Light Source of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Impact on Human Health

Disease occurs when one or more types of cell in the body function abnormally. This can be a consequence of factors such as infection, exposure to toxins, or genetic makeup. Therefore, understanding disease requires an understanding of both normal and aberrant cell function, and applying this knowledge to the development of new therapies. Gaining this insight is the driving force behind the development of new technologies for imaging cells and cellular processes. The two complementary techniques developed at the NCXT have been applied to a broad range of health related research. For example, determining the cellular changes that occur when red blood cells are infected with the malaria parasite, or the phenotypic changes that take place when Candida albicans switches from a benign form to become an invasive pathogen.