There are three cores available through our Center Core Grant

  • The In Vivo Models and Imaging Core provides participating investigators conducting basic and translational vision research with access to advanced technologies and highly qualified technical support for generating and performing ocular imaging of in vivo models. The Core provides instrumentation and technical expertise for:

    1. generating and maintaining in vivo models of ocular diseases, performing surgical procedures, obtaining samples for genotyping, and harvesting ocular tissues;
    2. enabling investigators to use various in vivo ocular imaging and tissue function testing technologies; 3) training investigators and research staff on the utility and operation of ocular imaging and function testing equipment
    3. consultation regarding the appropriate animal models, surgical and imaging procedures to address research needs of participating investigators.

    Core Faculty/Staff

    Core Director: Biju Thomas, PhD

    Core Co-Director: Juan Carlos Martinez, MD

    Core Staff:

    • Research Specialist: Ying Liu, MD (
    • Research Technician: Fernando Gallardo-Balderas


    Animal Surgery (available through the Translational Research In Vivo Core)

    • Zeiss Operating Microscope
    • Bausch & Lomb Stellaris PC Surgical System
    • IRIDEX Oculight SL, and IRIDEX Oculight Tx lasers
    • The IRIDEX Oculight Tx (Green 532 nm)
    • Synergetics Photon II Laser System

    Ocular Imaging (available through the Translational Research In Vivo Core)

    • Heidelberg Spectralis OCT (anterior and posterior segment)
    • Heidelberg HRT3 OCT (anterior segment, cornea)
    • Heidelberg SLO/FA/ICG/OCT/OCTA
    • Bioptigen/Leica Envisu R2210 SD-OCT (with mouse lens)
    • Rodent alignment stage
    • OTI scan 1000 Ophthalmic Ultrasound Tomography
    • Heine Omega Binocular Indirect Ophthalmoscope
    • Haag Streit Slit Lamp
    • OcuMetrics Fluorotron Fluorophotometer
    • Verasonics Ultrasound System
    • Konica Minolta HS2 Portable Ultrasound System
    • LipiView II Ocular Surface Interferometer
    • Halo 275 Visible-Light OCT
    • Cyberdyne AcousticX Pro Photoacoustic System

    Visual Function Assessment

    • OcuScience HMsERG
    • NS-Quanta OCT Integrated Laser & ERG/VEP system
    • Visual Cliff Test

    Multiphoton Imaging (available through the Multiphoton In Vivo Imaging Core)

    • Leica SP8 AOBS Multiphoton Microscope
  • The Cell & Tissue Imaging and Data Science Core enhances the activities and accomplishments of ongoing research projects by providing resources that will increase innovative capabilities and create an environment conducive to productive collaborative vision science research. It provides essential resources for microscopic evaluation of ocular tissues and increase the innovative capabilities of participating investigators for conducting productive basic and translational vision research. The Core provides equipment and technical expertise for:

    1. Performing histology of ocular tissue specimens
    2. Enabling investigators to evaluate ocular tissues with the use of sophisticated light/confocal and electron microscopy and emerging imaging modalities
    3. Training investigators and their research staff on the utility and operation of cell and tissue imaging equipment
    4. Consultations on cell and tissue preparation and imaging for experimental design and appropriateness of techniques to achieve research goals
    5. Providing expert technical support to develop algorithms for training of AI models, evaluate the performance of AI models, and validate their applicability

    Core Faculty/Staff

    Core Director: Sarah Hamm-Alvarez, PhD

    Core Director: Benjamin Xu, MD, PhD

    Core Staff:

    • Research Specialist:Sambid Adhikari (
    • Research Specialist: Xiaopeng Wang


    Optical Microscopy

    • Zeiss Modular Laser Scanning Microscope – LSM 800 Airyscan, 3-Channel System
    • Zeiss Axio Observer 7 Imaging System
    • Zeiss AXIO Imager.A2 upright transmitted light and fluorescent microscope
    • Zeiss Axioscan 7 Slide Scanner
    • Axiocam 305 Digital Camera and Computer Workstation
    • Keyence BZ-X800E
    • Ibidi Stage Top Incubators

    Histology Laboratory

    • Microtomes (Leica RM2125RT)
    • Tissue Processor (Leica TP1020)
    • Embedding Station (Leica EG1150 H+C)
    • Microscope (Leica CM)
    • Cryostats (International equipment company Minotome, Reichert Histostat)
    • Ultracut R Microtome (Leica)
    • Dissecting Microscope MZ16 with DC camera and computer imaging station (Leica)

    Electron Microscopy (available through the USC Core Center of Excellence in Nano Imaging)

    • Helios G4 PFIB UXe DualBeam FIB/SEM
    • JSM 7001F Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscope
    • Nova NanoSEM 450 Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscope
    • JEM-2100F Transmission Electron Microscope
    • FEI Talos F200C G2 Biological Transmission Electron Microscope

    Optical Imaging (available through the USC Optical Imaging Facility)

    • Confocal Microscope: Leica SP-8X with Digital Light Sheet (DLS) (inverted configuration)
    • Confocal Microscope: Leica SP-8X with Multiphoton Laser (upright configuration)
    • Confocal Microscope: Zeiss LSM 780 AxioObserver.Z1 (inverted configuration)
    • Confocal Microscope: Zeiss LSM 800: AxioObserver.M2 (upright configuration)
    • Widefield Microscope: Leica Thunder Computational Clearing (inverted configuration)
    • Wide-field Fluorescent Microscopes: Zeiss AxioImager.A1 (upright configuration)
    • Wide-field Fluorescent Microscopes: Zeiss AxioObserver.A1 and Axiovert 200 (inverted configuration)
    • Wide-field Fluorescent Microscope: Zeiss AxioZoom .v16
    • Slide Scanner: Zeiss AxioScan.z1

    Translational Imaging Center (available through the Translational Imaging Center)

    • Two-Photon single plane illumination microscopy (SPIM) Light Sheet Imager
    • Hyperspectral Phasor Imaging (HPI)
    • Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging Microscopy (FLIM)
  • The Ophthalmic Therapeutics Engineering Core provides essential resources to facilitate translational vision science and technology research for development of new therapies for ocular diseases. The Core supports instrumentation and technical expertise in molecular engineering required to characterize molecular nano-assemblies designed to carry drugs coupled with expertise in device engineering for their targeted delivery or direct therapeutic applications. The Core provides instrumentation and technical expertise for:

    1. Developing, characterizing and optimizing biological, chemical, or mechanical drug delivery systems
    2. Designing and fabricating custom devices and instruments that can improve or advance experimental procedures and research capabilities of investigators, particularly those involving delivery of therapeutics
    3. Training investigators on the utility and operation of available instrumentation for the design and characterization of therapeutic drug delivery vehicles and devices
    4. Consultations on the experimental design, appropriateness of the specific techniques, and integration of engineering techniques to escalate the progress of vision research projects

    Core Faculty/Staff

    Core Director: Qifa Zhou, PhD

    Core Co-Director: Andrew MacKay, PhD

    Core Staff:


    Ocular Biochemistry Laboratory

    • Life Technologies QuantStudio 6 Flext rt-qPCR
    • Agilent 1260 Infinity II analytical High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) equipped with an autosampler, UV-Vis multi-channel detector and fluorescence multi-channel detector
    • Particle Metrix ZetaView Particle Tracking Analyzer for hydrodynamic particle size, zeta potential and concentration analysis
    • Li-Cor Odyssey Fc ChemiDoc XRS system (multicolor fluorescent imaging system capable of imaging direct chemiluminescence, chemi-fluorescence and densitometric analysis)
    • NanoFCM U30 Dual Laser Flow NanoAnalyzer for nanoparticle detection and characterization
    • ChemiDoc XRS System (multicolor fluorescent imaging system capable of imaging direct chemiluminescence, chemi-fluorescence and densitometric analysis)
    • Nanodrop One C UV-Vis Spectrophotometer for quantifying and qualifying DNA, RNA and protein samples.
    • Molecular Devices SpectraMax iD5 plate reader with application for absorbance, viability studies, DNA/RNA quantification, ELISA, fluorescence, HTRH, luminescence, reporter gene assays
    • NanoAssemblr Spark to formulate nanoparticles
    • Assorted preparative and analytical centrifuges
    • Microcentrifuges and other small equipment for biochemical and molecular biological analysis
    • Memmert ICO 150 K7 T6 CO2 Incubator with humidity and O2 control
    • Beckman Coulter XPN-80 Preparative Ultracentrifuge
    • Ultra-low temperature freezer with liquid N2 backup (REVCO ULTIMA II -150°C)
    • Low temperature freezers (-80°C)
    • Thermo Fisher Flammable Materials Refrigerator/Freezer
    • De-ionized water system (Milli-Q)
    • Temperature-controlled shaking bacterial incubator (MaxQ6000, Thermo-Scientific)
    • INTEGRA VIAFLO ASSIST Electronic Pipette for automated dispensing of reagents
    • Ice Machine and Dry Ice supply
    • Cold room
    • Wet laboratory space
    • Tissue culture space with biosafety hoods and incubators

    Ocular Ultrasound Laboratory

    • Ultrasound high resolution elastographic system
    • Portable ultrasound vision systems
    • Verasonics Vantage 128 ultrasound system

    Ex Vivo Testing Laboratory (available through the USC Ginsburg Institute for Biomedical Therapeutics)

    • Millennium surgical machine
    • Surgical microscope with video camera

    Electronics Shop (available through the USC Ginsburg Institute for Biomedical Therapeutics)

    • Bose Electroforce 3100 mechanical measurement system
    • Keithley Electrometer 6517A
    • Tektronix TDS 5034B 4 channel storage oscilloscope
    • A-M System 2200 pulse generator
    • Agilent Precision LCR meter 4980A
    • Signatone Probe Station
    • Gamry Reference 600 and FAS1 Potentiostats
    • Princeton Applied Research 273A electrochemical potentiostat
    • Zwick Zwickiline (for Flexible Low-Force Testing) 500N
    • Power supplies, multi-meters, function generators

    Machine Shop (available through the USC Ginsburg Institute for Biomedical Therapeutics)

    • Makerbot 3D printer with dedicated workstation
    • CAD software
    • Lathe, drill press, mill, and bandsaw

    Nanobiophysical Core Laboratory (available through the USC NanoBiophysics Center)

    • Biacore T100 surface plasmon resonance (SPR) instrument
    • Size exclusion chromatography multiangle light scattering (SEC MALS) (Wyatt)
    • Spectrofluorometer QuantaMaster 4 (PTI) with time-resolved accessories
    • Nanoscope IIIa Atomic Force Microscope
    • MicroCal isothermal titration calorimeter (ITC)

    School of Pharmacy Core Facilities (available through the USC School of Pharmacy Core)

    • 4 Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometers (LC-MS) electrospray systems
    • DynaPro2 (Wyatt)
    • Circular Dichroism Spectophotometer J-815 (Jasco)
    • Jobin Yvon Fluorolog-3 (Horiba)