The Optical Imaging Core (OIC) provides access to state-of-the-art optical imaging instruments for conducting studies ranging from live cells to in vivo animals. This facility is also well equipped for conducting high end spectroscopic studies. A highly successful team of NIH funded researchers and qualified technicians, under the leadership of Dr. Samuel Achilefu and Dr. Walter Akers, are available to discuss and provide support in conducting molecular imaging studies. Our priority is to provide support to NIH funded researchers making important contributions to cancer research. OIC is available to the Washington University community, as well as other institutions in St. Louis. We are equipped with (i) high quality optical microscopy units, (ii) state-of-the art small animal imaging systems, and (iii) state-of-the art spectroscopy systems.

Core Description

We strive to provide high quality support for expediting molecular imaging studies of NIH funded research. We have three sub-cores that are open to users for this purpose: (i) microscopy imaging unit, (ii) in vivo animal imaging unit, and (iii) spectroscopy unit. Each of these sub-cores is coordinated by a NIH funded faculty at the Optical Radiology Laboratory under the direction of Dr. Samuel Achilefu. Users need to obtain training for using each of these sub-cores under the direction of respective sub-core faculty. User fees as well as training procedures may vary for each of these sub-cores. Additional assistance for conducting individual experiment is available for an additional charge.

Please contact the respective faculty of the sub-cores described below for more information.

(i) Microscopy Imaging Unit (Faculty: Dr. Samuel Achilefu (e-mail: This sub-core is equipped with an Olympus FV1000 laser scanning confocal microscope and an Olympus BX51 epi-fluorescence microscope.  The FV1000 system is capable of performing 3D DIC imaging as well as 3D fluorescence imaging using Argon Ion (458nm /488nm/515nm), HeNe (543nm/633nm), and 785 nm laser excitations and corresponding fluorescence acquisition. The BX51 system is capable of performing bright-field imaging as well as fluorescence imaging using DAPI, FITC/GFP, Cy5, Cy7, and 800 nm excitation and corresponding fluorescence acquisition. This microscope has an Olympus DP71 12.5 megapixel camera. The microscope systems are equipped with objectives from 1.25X to 100X for fluorescence imaging. Olympus provided software or custom software is available for image analysis. Free assistance available for quantitative analysis of microscopy images.

(ii) In Vivo Animal Imaging Unit (Faculty: Dr. Walter Akers (e-mail: This sub-core consists of a multi-modal digital imaging system (Kodak: IS4000MM), a reflectance time-domain DOT system (Advanced Research Technologies: eXplore Optix), and a custom small animal fluorescence lifetime (FLT) DOT system. Additionally, a small animal SPECT/CT, a small animal MRI scanner, and a small animal PET system are available. It also offers a small animal gas anesthesia system. The Kodak system performs fluorescence imaging at diverse excitation/emission wavelengths. The system also includes an enclosed 12–35 kVP X-ray source and RAD PADD radiographic imaging module for digital radiography and planar scintigraphy. The ART system has a temperature controlled animal plate, and it performs FLT imaging using 700 nm and 780 nm excitation sources. Our custom small animal fluorescence DOT system performs time resolved FLT imaging using a Ti:Sapphire laser 780 nm excitation light.

(iii) Spectroscopy Unit (Faculty: Dr. Mikhail Berezin ( This sub-core consists of a VIS-NIR (300-1600 nm) spectrofluorometer from Horiba Jobin Yvon Inc. This system features four high sensitivity NIR detectors: thermoelectrically cooled R2658p PMT with sensitivity 185-1050 nm, thermoelectrically cooled to -70 degree C Synapse CCD (1024×256 pixel) detector with sensitivity 200-900 nm, thermoelectrically cooled H10330-45 PMT detector with sensitivity 950-1400 nm, and liquid nitrogen cooled linear InGaAs array detector Symphony II 512x50x1 with sensitivity 800-1700 nm. It measures FLT in spectroscopic cuvette using 295, 370, 460, 560, 648, 700, 773, 785, 820, 980 nm laser sources, and it also measures phosphorescence lifetimes.


Service available to All entities, including for-profit organizations.

Priority service for Specific groups, centers or departments – see Additional Information for details.

Additional information:

Siteman Cancer Center — Members receive priority access and study design consultation.

OIC is a fee based facility. Consultation with OIC management is required before using this facility. All users must clarify with their laboratory PI regarding the User Fees prior to reserving a time on the calendar system or signing up for training or using the facility. To schedule an orientation/training session and for log in and usage instructions, email Walter Akers:​​​


  • 3D time-lapse confocal microscopy
  • Epi-fluorescence microscopy
  • Small animal fluorescence imaging using the multi-modal digital imaging system Kodak, ART, and custom DOT system
  • Spectroscopy, involving measuring absorption, emission, lifetime, etc. of fluorescence dyes
  • Technical support for microscopy, small animal imaging, and spectroscopic studies


  • Olympus FV1000 LSM, with excitation of 488 nm, 543 nm, 633 nm, and 785 nm wavelengths, and associated filter sets
  • Olympus BX51 system, with DAPI, FITC/GFP, Cy5, Cy7, and 800 nm excitation channels
  • Kodak: IS4000MM system, with multi-modal imaging capability and diverse excitation/emission channels for fluorescence imaging
  • Optix MX3 time-domain diffuse optical imaging system, with tunable laser excitation wavelength and associated filter sets for fluorescence lifetime (FLT) imaging
  • Perkin Elmer FMT2500 small animal fluorescence DOT system
  • VIS-NIR (300-1600 nm) spectrofluorometer from Horiba Jobin Yvon Inc. for measuring FLT of dyes in spectroscopic cuvette, using 295, 370, 460, 560, 648, 700, 773, 785, 820, 980 nm laser sources, and for measuring phosphorescence lifetimes


Pricing is subject to core verification

For pricing information, please con​tact the faculty coordinator of the respective sub-core.

Siteman Cancer Center (SCC)