The Gray Institute 'open' high-content, fluorescence lifetime microscopes.
Barber PR., Tullis IDC., Pierce GP., Newman RG., Prentice J., Rowley MI., Matthews DR., Ameer-Beg SM., Vojnovic B.
We describe a microscopy design methodology and details of microscopes built to this 'open' design approach. These demonstrate the first implementation of time-domain fluorescence microscopy in a flexible automated platform with the ability to ease the transition of this and other advanced microscopy techniques from development to use in routine biology applications. This approach allows easy expansion and modification of the platform capabilities, as it moves away from the use of a commercial, monolithic, microscope body to small, commercial off-the-shelf and custom made modular components. Drawings and diagrams of our microscopes have been made available under an open license for noncommercial use at http://users.ox.ac.uk/~atdgroup. Several automated high-content fluorescence microscope implementations have been constructed with this design framework and optimized for specific applications with multiwell plates and tissue microarrays. In particular, three platforms incorporate time-domain FLIM via time-correlated single photon counting in an automated fashion. We also present data from experiments performed on these platforms highlighting their automated wide-field and laser scanning capabilities designed for high-content microscopy. Devices using these designs also form radiation-beam 'end-stations' at Oxford and Surrey Universities, showing the versatility and extendibility of this approach.