About Farsight Health

This Medical Health Project is Developing Quantitative Tools for Studying Complex and Dynamic Biological Microenvironments from 4D/5D Microscopy Data

The goal of the FARSIGHT project is to develop and disseminate a next-generation toolkit of image analysis methods to enable quantitative studies of complex & dynamic tissue microenvironments that are imaged by modern optical microscopes. Examples of such microenvironments include brain tissue, stem cell niches, developing embryonic tissue, immune system components, and tumors. Progress in mapping these microenvironments is much too slow compared to the need. Our knowledge of these systems has been painstakingly “pieced together” from large numbers of fixed, 2-D images of specimens revealing a small fraction of the molecular ‘players’ involved. The goal of this project is to help accelerate progress by: (i) harnessing the power of modern microscopy to help see the microenvironments in a much more detailed, direct, and comprehensive manner; and (ii) computational tools to analyze the multi-dimensional data produced by these microscopes.

Powered by this new Golden Age of optical microscopy: Modern optical microscopes can capture multi-dimensional images of tissue microenvironments. First of all, these microscopes can record three-dimensional (x,y,z) images of thick, intact slices that are more realistic compared to thin slices. Next, they can record multiple structures simultaneously in a manner that preserves their spatial inter-relationships. This allows us to make associative measurements in addition to traditional morphological measurements (we call them intrinsic measurements). Such four-dimensional imaging (x,y,z,λ) is usually accomplished using multiple fluorescent labels that tag the structures of interest with a high degree of molecular specificity. Finally, it is now possible to capture such 3-D multi-channel images of living systems in the form of a time-lapse movie (image sequence (x,y,z,t)) that reveals dynamic processes in the tissues. Using all of the available imaging dimensions (x,y,z,λ,t), we can now observe living processes in their native tissue habitat. Ongoing progress in this field is producing microscopes that can resolve much finer structures, produce images much faster, and on a much larger scale. In the future, one can expect further growth in the number of possible dimensions. For instance, fluorescence lifetimes indicate molecular nano-environments, and the inclusion of additional modalities such as phase, polarization and non-linear scatter will undoubtedly provide additional data. Click here to learn more about the rationale for multi-dimensional microscopy. To learn more about optical microscopy,