Beyond the Cell's Surface

Drs. Rachel Friedman and Jordan JacobelliImmunologists Rachel Friedman, PhD, and Jordan Jacobelli, PhD, compare multi-photon microscopy to watching people interact with each other in dynamic social situations. Traditional microscopy is more like watching a person in solitary confinement. The multi-photon microscope uses highly focused infrared laser light to see deeper into an object, allowing Friedman and Jacobelli to examine intact living tissue rather than cells in culture or thin slices of dead tissue.

“We can see into the organ, how cells interact and where they go,” said Friedman. Repeated photographs at many depths allow Friedman and Jacobelli to make three-dimensional movies of these cellular interactions.

Friedman uses the cutting-edge technology to learn how islet cells in the pancreas are destroyed in diabetes. Jacobelli is studying how rogue T cells cross the bloodbrain barrier and attack the nervous system in multiple sclerosis. They also work with other researchers at National Jewish Health, most recently helping Philippa Marrack, PhD, learn how adjuvants make vaccines more effective.

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