Center Core Grant for Vision Research

Photo if eye model


The National Eye Institute funded P30 Center Core Grant for Vision Research provides shared resources accessible to a group of independently-funded investigators to enhance their research capabilities and productivity. It also provides an environment conducive to collaborative scientific interactions and inter-disciplinary vision science research focused on advancing knowledge of the visual system and treatments for vision impairment.

Principal Investigator: Mahnaz Shahidi, PhD

Project Coordinator: Joseph Yim (

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: Jeannie Chen, PhD

Core Co-Director: Mark Humayun, MD, PhD

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 HS1 Portable Ultrasound System
  • Lipiview2

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 and Tissue Imaging Core enhances activities and accomplishments of ongoing research projects by providing histology services, access to a range of advanced microscopic imaging equipment and technical expertise. 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

Core Faculty/Staff

Core Director: Sarah Hamm-Alvarez, PhD

Core Staff:


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

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: Andrew MacKay, PhD

Core Co-Director: Qifa Zhou, 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)
  • 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
  • Assorted preparative and analytical centrifuges
  • Microcentrifuges and other small equipment for biochemical and molecular biological analysis
  • Beckman Coulter Microfuge Centrifuge
  • 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)