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School of Medicine Columbia

Instrumentation Resource Facility

The mission of the IRF is to provide state-of-the-art biomedical research instrumentation for use in the School of Medicine Columbia and USC main campus research environments. As time and resources permit, outside use of the facility also is permitted and encouraged. 

State-of-the-Art Biomedical Research Equipment

The Instrumentation Resource Facility (IRF) is an integral component of the research and teaching mission of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine.

Located within the facility are several major pieces of state-of-the-art biomedical research equipment that provide techniques ranging from whole animal through single cell imaging to analysis at the molecular level. 

The IRF also houses a full range of ancillary equipment that is available for sample preparation. In addition to serving as a resource for acquisition of primary data, the IRF also has the capacity for image enhancement and related data analysis.

Service areas include:

  • Confocal Imaging
  • Electron Microscopy
  • Histology
  • Instrument Training
  • Flow Cytometry/ Cell Sorting
  • Poster Printing The IRF prints for Internal USC SOM Research Faculty and students only. 
  • Bio-Rad Ordering 

    The IRF places a weekly order to BioRad. Internal USC customers may submit a product order through the IRF to receive the School of Medicine discount. Weekly order deadline is 12 p.m. Mondays. Orders submitted to the core after the deadline will be processed the following week. All orders should be placed through iLab

iLab Portal

The Instrumentation Resource Facility uses Agilient CrossLab's iLab software to manage equipment availability and service requests. To get started on iLab:

  • Register for an account if you're a first time user.
  • Log in with your iLab credentials in the upper right corner and go to the Request Services tab to submit a service request.
  • Visit the Product Overview Page for further guidance using iLab's Core Facility Services.


Our Equipment 

PerkinElmer Quantum GX microCT Imaging System
The Quantum GX microCT multispecies imaging system provides high-resolution images at an X-ray dose low enough to enable true longitudinal imaging capability. With scan times as low as 8 seconds, the Quantum GX supports a workflow of up to 30 subjects per hour, with acquisition, reconstruction, and 3D visualization in under one minute. Automate your microCT imaging analysis, reducing time and increasing reproducibility, with our AccuCT™ advanced automated user-friendly bone analysis software. The Quantum GX is the most versatile small animal microCT imaging instrument proven to work in broad range of applications including, oncology, pulmonary and cardiovascular disease, diabetes, orthopedics and dentistry.

  • High-resolution (4.5 micrometer voxel size)
  • High-speed (8-seconds for 20 x 20 mm scan)
  • Low-dose imaging for longitudinal studies
  • Co-registration of functional optical signals with anatomical microCT imaging
  • Two-magnifications for high, medium and low resolutions
  • Two-phase respiratory and cardiac gating
  • Mouse/rat/rabbit imaging capabilities

The Quantum GX uCT is located in Building 1 Room B48 

IRF Contacts
Lorain Junor

PerkinElmer IVIS Spectrum Fluorescence and Bioluminescence Imaging System

The IVIS Spectrum is the newest instrument in the IVIS line of products and performs bioluminescent and epi- and trans- illumination fluorescent imaging. Unique to the IVIS Spectrum in this line of instruments is the capability to sensitively image both bioluminescent and fluorescent  reporters within the same animal and to provide a spectral fingerprint of the signal produced. This is an important advance in in vivo imaging technology as it allows separation of autofluorescence from the emitted signal improving signal resolution.  To obtain the spectral fingerprint the Spectrum uses a series of high efficiency narrow band-pass filters coupled with spectral unmixing algorithms to differentiate between multiple shallow and deep fluorescent sources. This provides a mechanism to optimally perform the wide array of fluorescence/bioluminescence research applications of our investigators. The system is also capable of performing 3D tomographic reconstructions for both bioluminescence and fluorescence.

  • High-sensitivity in vivo imaging of fluorescence and bioluminescence
  • High throughput (5 mice) with 23 cm field of view
  • High resolution (to 20 microns) with 3.9 cm field of view
  • Twenty eight high efficiency filters spanning 430 – 850 nm
  • Supports spectral unmixing applications which is ideal for distinguishing multiple bioluminescent and fluorescent reporters
  • Optical switch in the fluorescence illumination path allows reflection-mode or transmission-mode illumination
  • 3D diffuse tomographic reconstruction for both fluorescence and bioluminescence
  • Ability import and automatically co-register CT or MRI images yielding a functional and anatomical context
  • NIST traceable absolute calibrations
  • Gas anesthesia inlet and outlet ports.
  • Both mouse and rat platforms designed to maintain body temperature during anesthesia
  • Compact isoflurane anesthesiology system with an oxygen regulator and flow meter


Useful in a wide range of biomedical applications including oncology, cardiovascular diseases, stem cell biology, neurobiology, inflammation, toxicology and drug metabolism

The IVIS Spectrum is located in Building 1 Room B48 

IRF Contacts
Lorain Junor


JL Shepherd and Associates Model 143-68 Blood Product Irradiator  

The Model 143 Cesium-137 gamma irradiator is a self-contained fully shielded unit capable of delivering a dose rate of up to 200 Roentgen/minute. Final sample dose is determined by duration of irradiation that can be controlled by a preset timer on the unit.

Irradiation of molecules, cells, tissues, organs or whole animals.

IRF Contact
Lorain Lunor

Mauna Kea Cellvizio In Vivo Confocal 
The Cellvizio is a dual band (488 and 660nm) probe based confocal laser endomicroscopy system.  It is ideal for molecular imaging at the cell level for preclinical research.  Applications include in vivo imaging in neurosciences (deep brain imaging), cancer and inflammation (spleen, liver, etc) and cardiovascular (vessels, plaques).  Imaging is performed by inserting a small fiber optic probe into an incision. 


  • 300mm beveled or flat tip (deep brain imaging in mice or other organs if low invasiveness is required)
  • 650mm flat tip (deep brain imaging in rats or other organs if low invasiveness is required)
  • 1.5mm round tip (general applications)
  • 4.2mm high resolution 100nm working distance (vessels and angiogenesis)
  • 1.8mm long working distance (blood flow through vessel wall without penetration, deep cells in tumors or organs)
  • UltraMini high resolution (vessels, angiogenesis, cell morphology)
  • MiniZ (cavities, eyes)
  • Cerboplex (brain imaging)


Hyperscan Module for ultra-fast imaging
Vessel detection software for automatic delineation of vessels, capillaries and vascular bed
Mosaicing software for stitching images for reconstruction of tissues and organs.

The Cellvizio is located in the Building 9 Small Animal Imaging Suite.

IRF Contact
Lorain Junor


Visual Sonics VEVO 3100 High Resolution In Vivo Imaging System 
The VEVO 3100 is an ultra-high frequency ultrasound imaging system for acquisition of longitudinal in vivo anatomical, functional, physiological and molecular data simultaneously in real time at a resolution of 30 mm.  Both mouse and rat platforms designed to maintain body temperature during anesthesia and a compact isoflurane anesthesiology system with an oxygen regulator and flow meter are available.

Software packages

  • Analytical software for B-mode image capture and analysis, ECG on screen tracing, measurements and annotations, cineloop image review capture and display
  • M-Mode capture and analysis software for characterization of vessel and heart dynamics including wall thickness
  • Pulsed Wave Doppler package enabling quantitative analysis of blood flow velocity and waveform measurements
  • EKG and Advanced Cardiovascular
  • Software Packages
  • Contrast Enhancement and microbubble imaging software package
  • Microinjection capability

Scan Heads

  • MX 400 20-46 MHz with an axial resolution of 50um
  • MX 250 13-24 MHz with an axial resolution of 50um
  • MX 550D
  • 3D Motor


  • Cardiovascular- enables real time imaging and analysis of physiological function of the heart chambers and associated major vessels and the ability to monitor morphological changes during heart development and pathology.
  • Cancer biology- enables 2D and 3D tracking of the shape and size of subcutaneous and orthotopic tumor growth in longitudinal studies of the same animal during therapeutic treatment. Software allows volumetric analysis of tumor size and tracking of tumor vasculature and blood flow.
  • Neurobiology- enables real time monitoring of embryonic or neonatal brain development prior to ossification of the skull, cell lineage studies, identification of progressive neural degenerative diseases, and visualization of image guided needle injections and extractions.
  • Developmental biology- longitudinal and dimensional assessment of the same animal from early in development through adulthood, analysis of timed pregnant animals for developmental stage.

The VEVO 3100 system is located in Building 1 Room B48.

IRF Contacts
Lorain Junor


Logos Biosystems X-Clarity Tissue Clearing System

Dako Autostainer 

The Dako Autostainer plus system for robotic handling of immunohistochemistry staining
Reichert-Jung 2030 Paraffin Rotary Microtomes 

Leica VT1200S Vibratome 

Zeiss Microm 505HN Cryostat 

Nikon E600 Widefield Epifluorescence and Darkfield Microscopy System 
The Nikon E600 configuration consists of:

  • Excitation and emission filters for UV, green, red and far red dyes
  • Fiber optic darkfield illuminator for high-resolution darkfield imaging
  • Wide range of Plan and Plan-Fluor objectives ranging from 4X through 100X oil
  • Phase and DIC objectives and condensers
  • Micropublisher digital camera with Qimaging software

The E600 system is located in the Building 1 Room B59
IRF Contacts
 Lorain Junor or Anna Harper

Discover Echo Revolve Microscope

  • Brightfield and Fluorescence widefield microscopy

The Echo Revolve system is located in the Building 1 Room B59.
IRF Contacts
Lorain Junor or Anna Harper

Zeiss SteREO Lumar V.12 Stereomicroscope

The Zeiss Lumar V.12 system consists of:

  • Filter sets for fluorescent imaging of EGFP, Rhodamine, CFP, YFP, Cy3 and DAPI ranges of dyes
  • LCD cold light source for transmitted light imaging
  • Fiber optic illumination source
  • Zeiss Axiocam MRm digital camera with Axiovision software

The Lumar V.12 system is located in Building 1 Room B59.

IRF Contacts
 Lorain Junor

Invitrogen EVOS FL Auto Cell Imaging System 
The EVOS is a fully automated, digital inverted multi-channel fluorescence and transmitted light imaging system equipped with: 

  • Light cubes: Dapi, GFP, Texas Red and Cy5
  • 4X, 10X phase, 20X, 20X phase, 40X and 60X objectives
  • Vessel holders available: double slide, multiwell, 35mm dish, 60mm dish, 100mm dish, T-25 flask and T-75 flask


IRF Contacts
Lorain Junor or Anna Harper 

Leica SP8 Multiphoton Confocal 
The SP8 TCS Multiphoton system is a state-of-the-art platform equipped with:

  • Upright DM6000 CFS microscope
  • 10X Dry, 20X Dry, 25X Water immersion, 40X Water, 63X Oil, and X-Clarity 25X objectives
  • Two internal PMT detectors
  • Two internal HyD detectors
  • HyD-RLD high sensitivity detectors
  • 488nm, 552nm, and 638nm lasers visible lasers
  • Coherent Chameleon Ultra II 680-1080 tunable laser
  • LAS AF 3D analysis software

The Leica SP8 system is located in Building 9 (Access through IRF personnel only for non-VA researchers)

IRF Contact
Anna Harper


Leica Stellaris 5 DIchroic 

  • UV, 5 Fixed Diode lasers 405nm, 448nm, 488nm, 514nm, 561nm, 638nm
  • HyD S detectors
  • Transmitted light 
  • 10X, 20X, 25X water, 40X oil, 63X oil objectives
  • Software package includes LASX 3D
  • Lightning Super Resolution Capabilities

The Leica Stellaris 5 system is located in Building 1 Room B60.

IRF Contacts
Anna Harper

JEOL 1400 Plus Transmission Electron Microscope 

The JEOL 1400 plus transmission electron microscope is a standard TEM system for imaging biological ultrastructure. The IRF system is equipped with:

  • Tungsten filament
  • Resolution of 0.2nm
  • Serial EM program for Tomography (+/- 60o tilt) and Stitching
  • Accelerating voltages adjustable to 120kV
  • Advanced Microscopy Techniques side mounted 8K bottom mount digital camera\


  • High resolution ultrastructural imaging
  • Immunocytochemistry with colloidal gold and other electron dense probes
  • Tomography
  • Diffraction

The JEOL 1400 Plus system is located in Building 1 Room B59

IRF Contact

Ryan Ball


The  scanning electron microscope is a fully integrated digital high vacuum system. The system in the IRF is equipped with:

  • Tungsten filament
  • High resolution secondary and TV rate backscatter detectors
  • Resolution in secondary mode of 3.5nm
  • Resolution in backscattered mode of 10nm
  • Sample size of up to 5 inches in diameter can be fully imaged
  • Motorized X-Y stage that can be driven to stored positions
  • Preset Z working distances from 8, 15, 25, 39, and 48mm
  • Eucentric stage with tilt capability of -5 to + 90 at a working distance of 48mm
    360 rotation
  • Accelerating voltages from 0.5-30kV
  • Magnifications from 5X-300,000X
  • Visions Software Package
  • Polaroid film and digital image storage


  • Imaging surface morphology of biological and materials samples
  • Imaging cell: cell and cell: ECM interactions
  • Colloidal gold immunocytochemistry of surface molecules


The JEOL JSM IT100 system is located in Building 1 Room B59 of the IRF.

IRF Contact

Ryan Ball

Leica Ultracut R Ultramicrotome 

Polaron Sputter Coater 

Reichert U3 Ultramicrotome 

Tousimis Samdri-PVT-3B Critical Point Dryer 


Amira 5 & 6
The Amira workstation computer is located in Building 1 Room B60

IRF Contacts
Lorain Junor 

The LASX 3D software is located on the Leica Stellaris 5 and SP8 confocal microscopes.

IRF Contact
Anna Harper

The FACS-Aria II high performance cell sorter is a flow cytometer capable of sorting up to 70,000 events per second while maintaining viability and function of cells in culture. This makes it an ideal system for sterile cell sorting for separating rare cell events, such as stem cells, dendritic cells, and NKT cells that often represents less than 1% to 2% of the total cells in a large population.

  • Solid state 488 and 640 lasers and sorting capabilities.
  • Automated Cell Deposition Unit and Aerosol Management system.
  • The 488 line has forward and side scatter and 4 fluorescent detectors. The 640 line has 2 fluorescent detectors.
  • Two and Four way sorting into 12X75mm tubes, 15 ml tubes, slides or culture plates.
  • Fluidics with 70, 85 and 100 micron nozzle tips.
  • Temperature control option for cooling of sort collection devices – tubes and plates
  • Optical filters for the 488 laser include FITC, PE, PE-Texas Red, PerCP, CY5.5 and PECY7.
  • Optical Filters for the 640 laser includes APC-CY7, Alexa700, APC
  • Computer and FACSDIVA software


  • Analysis of cell surface antigens and biomarkers
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Cell size and granularity
  • Stem cells and hematopoietic cell lineage studies
  • Hematology
  • Apoptosis, live/dead cell assay
  • Cell cycle studies
  • Stem cell 4 way sorting
  • Cell viability and Functional assays
  • Rare cell population sorting
  • Slides and culture plate sorting

The FACS Aria II is located in Building 1 Room B44.

IRF Contact
Jason Kubinak

BD FACS Symphony A5 Cell Analyzer 
The BD FACS Symphony A5 Cell Analyzer is a high throughput flow cytometer that facilitates a wide range of assays including high-parameter flow cytometry.  

  • Equipped with small particle detector for analysis of particles >100nm.
  • Equipped with 5 lasers- UV 355nm, Violet 405nm, Blue 488nm, Yellow-Green 561nm, Red 640nm
  • Separation of PE onto Y-G laser reduces common issue of high spectral bleedover between FITC and PE fluorochromes that occur when excited and detected by blue laser.
  • Inclusion of Violet and Ultraviolet lasers expands fluorochrome options including Brilliant Violet dyes and expanding line of Brilliant Ultraviolet dyes.
  • Inclusion of Ultraviolet laser allows for visualization of DAPI, Hoechst, and other UV emitters.
  • High laser power for enhanced resolution of dim fluors (100mW UV, 200mW Violet, 200mW Blue, 150mW Yellow-Green, 140mW Red)
  • Allows for simultaneous detection of up to 28 fluorescent parameters
  • Flexible filter/mirror sets expand user capabilities
  • Auto-compensation feature for automatic correction of spectral bleed-through between fluorochromes
  • Computer workstation with FACSDiva Software 


  • The IRF's new workhorse for standard flow cytometry assays
  • Can perform basic cell analysis or advanced high-parameter flow cytometry (how many fluorescent parameters can you incorporate into your panel?!?)
  • Cellular phenotyping in mixed cell populations
  • Analysis of particle size and granularity
  • Can perform cell viability assays
  • Can perform cell proliferation assays
  • Can perform real-time functional assays (calcium fluxing in response to stimuli, etc.)
  • Enumeration of small particles including bacteria, nanoparticles, exosomes, some viruses (noise floor is ~100nm)
  • Analysis of endogenous GFP, YFP, RFP, CFP expression
  • Measurement of cellular protein expression
  • ...and more

The BD FAC Symphony A5 is located in Building 1 Room B44

IRF Contact
Jason Kubinak

AFP X-Ray Film Processor 

Automated X-ray film processing for Westerns etc.

4X4 inch (10X10cm) through 14X36 inch (35X91cm) film
Capable of processing up to 85 sheets per hour
Time and temperature adjustable for controlled development of film

Building 28

IRF Contact
Ryan Ball

BioRad BioPlex 100 and 200 Systems 
The BioPlex system is a multiplex analysis system that permits the simultaneous analysis of up to 100 (or 200) different biomolecules (proteins, peptides, or nucleic acids) in a single microplate well. By multiplexing with the BioPlex system, researchers can dramatically increase the amount of useful information from rare or volume-limited samples such as mouse or rat serum, and decipher complex interrelationships among proteins involved in signal transduction pathways. The microplate platform allows the automated analysis of 96-well plates with a throughput of more than 1,800 assay points (for a 23–plex assay) in 30 minutes. The BioPlex suspension array is built around three core technologies:

The first is the family of fluorescently dyed microspheres, or beads, from Luminex Corp.
The second is a flow cytometer with two lasers and associated optics to measure biochemical reactions that occur on the surface of the microspheres.
The third is a high-speed digital signal processor to efficiently manage the fluorescent output.


  • Multiplex analysis of cytokines and phosphoproteins with prepared kits available from BioRad
  • Multiplex analysis of a variety of proteins by conjugating antibodies to beads via kits available from BioRad

The BioPlex 100 system is located in the Building 1 Room B60.  The BioPlex 200 system is located in Building 9 Room 225.

IRF Contact
Jay Potts


BioRad GelDoc XR+ System and iMark Microplate Absorbance Reader 
A rapid system for imaging, documentation, and analysis of gels and blots for nucleic acids, protein gels, and blots. The iMark Microplate Absorbance Reader is an eight-channel, vertical path length photometer that measures the absorbance of the contents in the wells of a 96 well microtitration plate.  It an perform single or dual wavelength measurements and can report absorbance values to three decimal places.

The GelDoc and Microplate reader are located in Building 1 Room B60

IRF Contact
Lorain Junor


LiCor Odyssey CLX System 

Located in Building 1 Room B59.

IRF Contact
Lorain Junor

NanoPhotometer Pearl 
Micro-liter sample analysis of  nucleic acids   dsDNA, ssDNA, RNA, and Oligonucleotides, Labeling efficiency of proteins and protein dye, Bradford, Lowry, BCA, and Biuret applications

The NanoPearl is located in Building 1 Room B60

IRF Contact
Lorain Junor


 The QIAgility and Rotor-Gene Q Real time PCR equipment provides compact bench top instruments that enable a rapid, high-precision PCR setup. The unmatched versatility of the QIAgility means that almost all tube and plate formats are supported, as well as Rotor-Discs for the Rotor-Gene Q. The QIAgility is operated via a computer with easy-to-use software.


  • Automated PCR setup in all formats
  • Convenient, easy-to-use software
  • Standardized results and increased productivity
  • Elimination of manual pipetting steps
  • Seamless integration with QIAGEN sample technologies
  • Outstanding thermal and optical performance due to rotary format
  • An unmatched optical range spanning UV to infrared wavelengths
  • High performance in multiple applications with QIAGEN assays

IRF Contact
Jay Potts 

The QIAgility system is located in Building 9 Room 225.


QIAsymphony System 
With a dedicated range of QIAsymphony Kits, the QIAsymphony SP enables sample preparation of DNA, RNA, and bacterial and viral nucleic acids from a wide range of starting materials. The QIAsymphony AS extends the capabilities of the QIAsymphony SP by integrating automated PCR assay setup, which, in combination with the Rotor-Gene Q and QIAGEN real-time and end-point PCR kits, enables you to optimize your PCR workflow and maximize your efficiency.


  • Purification of DNA and RNA from a wide range of samples
  • Automatic transfer of eluates to the QIAsymphony AS for assay setup
  • Continuous sample loading, with bar code reading for sample tracking
  • Import of sample lists and export of sample sheets

IRF Contact
Jay Potts 

The QIAsymphony is located  in Building 9 Room 225.


BioRad CFX Connect rtPCR 
The CFX Connect Real-Time PCR Detection System offers two-target analysis, excellent thermal cycler specifications, and the same reliable performance as the CFX96 Touch™ Real-Time PCR Detection System. The system incorporates innovative optical technologies with powerful software to provide maximal reliability and efficiency for all your real-time PCR needs.

The BioRad CFX Connect is located in Building 1 Rm B59

IRF Contact
Lorain Junor


BioRad iCycler iQ rtPCR
Real time PCR, in conjunction with the appropriate fluorescent detection strategies,  allows the initial amount of nucleic acid in a reaction to be determined. Advances in the technology have led to significant improvements in the accuracy of DNA quantitation and gene expression analysis. Quantitation is achieved by measuring the increase in fluorescence during the exponential phase of the PCR reaction. The system in the IRF is equipped for:

Three color analysis for amplification of three dependent targets
TaqMan, Sybr Green, primer based system and molecular beacon analyses
Multiple sample block formats for 0.2ml tubes, 96 well plates and 384 well PCR plates
Real time display of data acquisition


  • Quantitative comparison of genes of interest in housekeeping genes in a single sample
  • Quantitative detection of gene expression in genetically modified organisms
  • Analysis of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs)
  • When used in conjunction with laser capture microdissection, real time PCR provides an excellent technique for comparison of genetic expression in specific cell types such as cancer vs. normal cells from a single region of tissue.

The BioRad iCycler iQ is located in Building 1 Room B60

IRF Contact
Lorain Junor

Qiagen Rotor-Gene Q rtPCR 
QIAGEN's real-time PCR cycler, the Rotor-Gene Q, combines multiple optimized design features to provide the outstanding performance and reliable results that your research demands. Together with optimized QIAGEN kits for real-time PCR, the Rotor-Gene Q enables streamlined analysis for a wide range of applications. Q-Rex Software is the new operating and analysis software for life science qPCR applications, with a plug-in concept that lets you add new functionality without affecting established workflows.

The Qiagen Rotor-Gene Q system is located in Building 9 Room 225.

IRF Contact
Jay Potts 


TECAN Freedom EVO System 
The TECAN Freedom robotic platform offers an advanced, proven and reliable liquid handling system for different scales and throughputs. The liquid handling and manipulative robotic arms provide an extendable work area and variable configurations. Freedom EVO workstations can automate a diverse range of applications including primary and secondary screening, cell growth and maintenance, nucleic acid sample preparation, hit picking, library management and sample weighing. Once the Freedom completes the specimen preparation the sample is automatically transferred to the integrated BioRad BioPlex 200 system for data acquisition and analysis.


  • Automated liquid handling for sample preparation and analysis
  • Multiplex analysis of cytokines and phosphoproteins with prepared kits available from BioRad
  • Multiplex analysis of a variety of proteins by conjugating antibodies to beads via kits available from BioRad

The TECAN/BioPlex 200 systems are located in Building 9 Room 225 

IRF Contact
Jay Potts







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