Microscopy and Histology Core Expanded Research Mode Guidelines

The Microscopy and Histology Core will be ramping up operation to support more research activity. All instruments are open to independent use for trained users. Core staff members will have restricted on-site presence for hands-on assistance, but are able to help remotely on most instrument for most questions. We are implementing some new policies regarding staffing, instrument booking, sample submission, and cleaning to help maintain social distancing and keep everyone safe. These policies will be updated over time as we learn how best to manage this crisis.

Instruments Scheduling:
The workstations continue to be available for remote use, using Window’s Remote Desktop or LogMeIn. Please reserve your time in Infinity to prevent scheduling conflicts.

Some instruments are too close together to be safely used by two people simultaneously. In order to maintain adequate separation between people, the Marianas and FV10i cannot be used simultaneously. We will link these schedules in Infinity to ensure there is no overlap. Similarly, the LSM880 and Workstation 4 cannot be used simultaneously by two people. However, it is still possible for one person to use workstation 4 remotely while another is running the confocal, or for one user to acquire data and analyze it simultaneously. Furthermore, Workstation 2 will be designated as Remote Use Only. Most of the microscopes will be booked by Zbigniew or Bill 2-3 days per week for assisted use.

The entire histology lab will be limited to a single person. Please knock before entering and wait for there no be no answer to ensure it is empty. Reserve time in this room on Infinity. Angela and Kasia will typically book the rooms on Saturday, Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday (subject to change). Angela has taken home the microtome to be able to section samples while working from home, so it is unavailable.

Cleaning and Hygiene:
Before and after your session, please clean the entire work area:
• Wipe keyboard and mouse with isopropanol-saturated towels. Wetkey branded keyboards can be sprayed directly.
• Wipe flat desk surfaces with isopropanol-saturated towels.
• Wipe microscope surfaces (buttons, knobs, sample holder, etc), with isopropanol-saturated towels
• Wipe microscope oculars and the entire objective lens with 70% isopropanol on lens paper
• Pay attention to any other surface you touched, even casually, and wipe it down with isopropanol.

There will be a supply of gloves in every room. Please change into a fresh pair of gloves every time you enter the facility. Please change or sterilize your gloves frequently, especially when switching between work areas, and do not reuse gloves. If you wish to not wear gloves, please wash or sanitize your hands frequently, including when you are entering or leaving the suite. Always treat all surfaces as if they are contaminated, even if you are wearing gloves, and do not touch your face.
Please wear a mask at all times in the main microscopy suite. The doors to the histology room, slide scanner room, and Zbigniew’s and Sara’s office will be closed. These will be considered “private” and it is OK to take off your mask inside if you are the only person inside.

No food or drinks allowed in the facility.

We are discouraging the use of biohazard agents within the BSL2 Intravital suite due to the limited availability of PPE. Non-contaminated gowns and facemasks can be reused for ~1 week. Please discuss the decontamination and reuse process with David Hall or Zbigniew. Store your facemask with your labeled gown on the hooks provided in the entry way. Change gloves frequently.

Histology Sample Processing and Assisted Microscope Use:
Sample drop off days will be Monday, Tuesday, and Friday. To have your fresh samples processed please fix them with zinc formalin and transfer to 70% alcohol in a spill-proof container. Please put the container in a plastic bag and leave them on the drop off rack in the histology room. As always, please label the samples well, email us the work order form at histology@lji.org and include the account number we should charge. If you are dropping of blocks or slides, please pack them in a plastic bag. Both the plastic bag and the contents will be sprayed with isopropanol before processing. Please email histology@lji.org with any questions. All BSL2 samples, including COVID-related samples, must be fixed before being dropped off. Samples and slides will be returned to the table outside histology room.

Zbigniew and Bill will be in the facility to acquire images of user’s samples 2-3 days per week. If you have slides that need to be imaged, please leave them on the table outside of the histology room. Please label them well and include the account code that should be charged. The samples will be disinfected with isopropyl alcohol so use alcohol-proof marker. To lower the density of people using the equipment we offer to load your slides into the slide scanner. Users can remotely log in to the acquisition computers during set up to view their samples and discuss their needs. Please email Zbigniew or Bill directly to set this up or with any questions.

External users and samples:
We will begin accepting external samples for histological processing, slide scanning, or other microscopy, with an extended cleaning protocol. Please email histology@lji.org to schedule the drop off and to receive detailed instruction. Do not bring your samples until you got a confirmation that someone will be able to receive them. You will make a contactless delivery in front of LJI building. Please use provided spray bottle to disinfect your samples and place them in a plastic bag provided. Both the plastic bag and the contents will be sprayed with isopropanol before processing. Work will be slow at first as we work through the backlog of samples that has accumulated. Priority will be assigned as follows: 1) internal COVID samples, 2) external COVID samples, 3) internal users, 4) P30 consortium members, 5) all other external users. All BSL2 samples, including COVID-related samples, must be fixed before being dropped off. Please contact us to discuss the biosafety status of your samples before bringing them to LJI.

The institute is still restricting building access, so it is difficult for external users to enter to use the microscopes independently. Very rare exceptions will be granted on an individual basis. We highly recommend external customers drop off samples for us to image. External customers are able to access our workstations remotely for data analysis.

Data Analysis:
We are happy to provide data analysis, answer questions, or perform user training on analysis software remotely. Please contact micro_core@lji.org with any questions or requests. The analysis workstations 1-4 can be accessed remotely. Please schedule time on Infinity and contact help@lji.org for help setting that up.

Training:
Most training will be conducted remotely, using LogMeIn and Skype/Zoom on a mobile device held by the user. In-person training will require an N95 level of protection.

Marketplace:
We will soon set up a self-service kiosk for probes, antibodies, etc. Details will be provided soon.