Northwestern University NU Office for Research Shared and Core Facilities


Center for Advanced Microscopy

The Center for Advanced Microscopy is located on the second floors of Morton and Searle Buildings at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, in downtown Chicago.

CAM offers a variety of light and electron microscopy services, and is home to the Nikon Imaging Center.

CAM  is proud to receive awards from the Northwestern University Office for Research Outstanding Core Facility Award for the last ten years.

CAM is generously supported by Northwestern University Office of Research, Feinberg School of Medicine, Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the NU Department of Cell & Developmental Biology.

CAM Operations and COVID-19

CAM is now ready to accept reservations on our instruments. There are several policy changes in response to the COVID-19 crisis.  Please read the policies below and watch this video for proper scope cleaning before requesting a reservation.

  • All support is remote.
  • Bring your cell phones to call the numbers posted on the instruments for support and to log into NUcore.
  • Reach out to CAM staff via email or phone. We will not take face to face meetings.
  • Masks are required AT ALL TIMES. Do not remove your mask at the microscope or pull it down below your nose.
  • Do not go to other microscope rooms for supplies. If you run out of oil, paper, cleaner etc go to Searle 2512(the computer lab) to refill and contact CAM staff (either via phone or email)
  • Do not come early or stay beyond your reserved time. CAM staff are building in 30 minute buffers between user reservations to reduce the risk of COVID exposure. Do not use this time cleaning or imaging, please plan accordingly.
  • Do not use the tissue culture incubator in Morton 2664, use the one is Morton 2633.
  • All EM sample pickup and drop off will be contactless. Contact staff first.
  • All plateholders/objectives for Nikon systems are now on the counter in Morton 2-607. If you use a multiwell plate holder please return it to this location at the end of your session.
  • 1 person per microscope
  • Analysis computers are available via remote access.
  • Watch this video before asking to schedule time on the instrument.
  • All the microscopes have been deep cleaned. We will be more stringent going forward about enforcing users cleaning the microscope after their reservation. If you find a user before you has left the microscope in unacceptable condition (especially dirty objectives, or oil/media spills) please contact CAM staff.
  • Please make sure you transfer ALL your data to the FSMResFiles server at the end of each session. We will be removing local stored data from the instrument computers weekly without warning. No hard drives, flash drives are allowed.

Disinfection and PPE protocol:

  • Each microscope has a bottle of disinfectant. Do not spray this on the instrument.  Spray onto a kimwipe or paper towel.
  • Wipe down the keyboards, mice, focus knobs, pipets (if provided) and other high touch areas (such as light switches) with disinfectant wetted wipe.
  • Wipe down the area below the eyepieces on the microscope stand. Wipe down the oculars with disinfectant and lens paper.
  • Be sure to check the objectives and clean them with lens paper and sparkle.
  • We are providing Saran wrap, make sure you cover the eyepieces and the front of the scope. We will also have keyboard protectors available.
  • Gloves are recommended but optional, you must provide your own. If you are using gloves do not come to the facility wearing them. You must put them on after you have entered the microscope room and remove them before you leave.
  • Goggles/safety glasses are also recommended but not required. You must provide your own and wipe them down before you begin you imaging session.
  • If you find that the previous user has not cleaned please inform CAM staff

For reservations/instrument questions please contact:

Information for New/Prospective Users

This website provide informative guide to our portfolio of more than 30 services. Users are encouraged to discuss their project design and experimental needs with the facility staff prior to using the facility.

If you are interested in being trained on an imaging platform please contact CAM staff.  Include what type of sample you are imaging (cells, tissue, gels etc), your fluorophores, whether your sample is live or fixed and what you are hoping to visualize. Training sessions are Monday-Friday 9-12 or 1-4, and based on the availability of the staff and the instrument.  Cost for the training session is $40/hour in addition to the instrument time.  We can train up to 3 individuals at a time for light microscopy (1 at time for EM training). To schedule a training we will need a chartstring to bill you for the charges, and your NetID. We will also need your full name (as displayed on your ID),  employee ID number (located on the front of your wildcard) and the numbers on the back of your wildcard to grant you access to the facility which is locked 24/7.

In order for new users to be able to read/write data, their PIs  must contact FSM IT to grant them access to FSMResFiles Core Facility server.  Please provide the NetID of the PI and the NetIDs of the users.  FSM IT can be contacted at

New users who need to utilize laser-based instruments ( i.e. confocals) are required to take the myHR Learn laser safety course by the State of Illinois.  Go to

  • Search for “Laser Safety Training”
  • In the box for “Research Safety: Laser Safety Training” click on the dropdown menu and choose “Add to plan.” Without this step you will not be credited for taking the course.
  • Click on the dropdown again and choose “Register,” then follow the instructions for completing the course

Only after you complete the course your laser registration will be updated in NUcore.  This will be reflected in NUcore the day after you complete training because NUcore is updated once a day at 6AM.

If you are an external user you will need to obtain and affiliate NetID and access to MyHRLearn to complete the laser safety training course. Please contact Laurie Daniels, she can also aid you in obtaining the ID and setting up a PO for payment.

Reservation Cancellation Policy

We charge a $30 cancellation policy for any reservation cancelled within 24 hours of their session. Please also be aware that we do no refund unused portions of reservations (ie no refund on 1 hour if you only using 3 hours of a 4 hour session). Please contact CAM staff with any questions.

Data Storage Policy

The Center for Advanced Microscopy utilizes FSM server space for data management.  In order to access the  FSMResFiles Core Facility server your PI must register your NetID with FSM IT.  Your PI can contact FSM it at  Please provide IT the NetID of the PI and the NetIDs of the users that are using the facility and tell them that you need access to the FSMResFiles Core Facility server.

Instructions on how to connect to the server can be found here. If you are a non-NU user please contact CAM staff for instructions on how to access the cluster.

CAM workstations are not HIPAA compliant/PHI compliant. Do not save any patient information on these machines!

Acknowledging the Center for Advanced Microscopy

It is important that the use of the Center for Advanced Microscopy is properly acknowledged in your publications. Acknowledgement helps us demonstrate the impact we contribute to the research community, and it helps tremendously in our efforts to secure funding to bring you more cutting edge instruments and services.

So help us help you!

Anyone who uses the facility should acknowledge the Center for Advanced Microscopy by including a “General Acknowledgment”. If any specific equipment was used, they should ADD the corresponding paragraph that matches the instrument.

General Acknowledgment

“Imaging work was performed at the Northwestern University Center for Advanced Microscopy generously supported by NCI CCSG P30 CA060553 awarded to the Robert H Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center.”

Andor Spinning Disk

“Spinning disk confocal microscopy was performed on an Andor XDI Revolution microscope, purchased through the support of NCRR 1S10 RR031680-01.”

Nikon Biostation CT

“High content imaging was performed on the Nikon Biostation CT system purchased with the support of NIH 1S10OD021704​-01.”

Nikon Multiphoton

“Multiphoton microscopy was perform on a Nikon A1R multiphoton microscope, acquired through the support of NIH 1S10OD010398-01.”

Nikon N-SIM

“Structured illumination microscopy was performed on a Nikon N-SIM system, purchased through the support of NIH 1S10OD016342-01.”

Zeiss PALM

“Microdissection was performed on Zeiss PALM laser catapulting microdissection system purchased with the support of NCRR 1S10RR025624-01.”

For example, if a user uses the PALM system, then the acknowledgment should read:

“Imaging work was performed at the Northwestern University Center for Advanced Microscopy generously supported by CCSG P30 CA060553 awarded to the Robert H Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center. Microdissection was performed on Zeiss PALM microdissection system purchased with the support of NCRR 1S10RR025624-01.”

Users should also send a PDF copy of the papers they publish to Dina Arvanitis.

Clinical Identifiers Policy

Please be aware that the facility server, CAM microscopes and workstations are not HIPAA compliant/PHI compliant. This means no image data saved or stored within CAM (including the FSMResFiles Core Facility server) can have any human subject/patient identification information associated with it.  This includes file and folder names as well as anything present in an image, image file or file metadata.  Thank you.

Instrument Access Policy

In compliance with NIH and Northwestern policies, instruments in CAM are available to all members of the Northwestern community, the Chicago Biomedical Consortium, and external users.  In certain circumstances (e.g. if a PI, department, or center provides significant cost sharing for an instrument), access for specific individuals can be prioritized through the NUcore booking calendar; these individuals may be eligible to reserve imaging sessions further in advance of general users.

Members of the Robert H. Lurie Cancer Center (RHLCC) receive extended booking per this policy.  Specific inquiries should be directed to Dina Arvanitis.

Instrument Billing Policy

In compliance with NIH and Northwestern policies, instrument time in CAM is billed in accordance with a rate calculation worksheet approved by the Office of Cost Studies.  In certain circumstances (e.g. if support is provided by a specific source of funds), the rate paid by a specific group can be subsidized, although the fundamental rate prior to any applied subsidy is the same for all members of the Northwestern community and the CBC as dictated by the rate calculation worksheet.

Image Analysis Billing Policy:

Please note that although initial consultations and brief discussion/questions (e.g. <15 minutes) may not be charged, Image Analysis is a service line for which we bill (for prices please see  If you have any questions about this policy, please contact Dina Arvanitis.

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