PBRU Research Laboratories

The PBRU has built 2 new Research Laboratories, which are located on the 3rd Floor of the UCD Block, Royal Liverpool University Hospital.

Main Laboratory
The main laboratory also includes the tissue culture laboratory (main laboratory featured in the large picture below).  This houses the Seahorse XF Analyser and the Port-a-Patch.  Work on the Biobanks is carried out in both the main laboratory and the tissue culture laboratory.  The PBRU Research Laboratories also carry out biomarker research.  These laboratories are used for drug discovery, to screen novel compounds, which may eventually be used in early phase clinical trials in the Clinical Research Facility (CRF) based within the Royal Liverpool Hospital, 2nd floor.

Confocal Laboratory

The second laboratory is dedicated to confocal microscopy and provides facilities for a state-of-art Zeiss LSM 710 confocal scanning microscope.  The confocal microscope was purchased with NIHR funding and through a donation from the estate of Mrs B C Whiteley. The Trustees of the estate, Keith and Valerie Clayton and Elizabeth Green unveiled a commemorative plaque celebrating the Whiteley donation on Friday 19th August 2011.

Confocal Microscope












Imaging of live cells and tissues is extremely important for translational research to understand complicated human cellular processes in real-time. Therefore, the PBRU has recently set up a state-of-the-art Zeiss confocal laser scanning microscope 710. This inverted confocal microscope is equipped with 355nm UV; 458nm, 488nm, 514nm argon; 561nm diode and 633 HeNe lasers. The microscope can detect up to 10 dyes/fluorescent proteins simultaneously over the entire wavelength range. With the new Zen software and motorized XY stage the 710 is easy to use for any combination of z-series, time series, tiling, positions, bleaching, etc.   Temperature, humidity and CO2 can be controlled with the help of an incubation chamber installed on the microscope, which make this system ideal for live cell imaging over time.

The 710 enables us to track variety of intracellular processes including calcium signalling, mitochondrial membrane potential, protein translocation, cell death, inflammatory responses leading to necrosis, cells migration. All these process play crucial roles in pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. Fortunately, we have access to human pancreatic tissue, the imaging of which improves our understanding of the similarities and differences in signalling mechanisms in isolated cells and intact human pancreatic tissue; this will be vital in our drug discovery for pancreatitis diseases. The Imaging Facility at the PBRU is managed and operated by Dr. Muhammad Awais who is an expert of developing fluorescent and bioluminescent assays for imaging cellular processes in real-time.    

Professor Sutton and Dr Awais with Elizabeth Green on the occasion of the unveilling of the plaque on 19th August 2011












Dr Awais is explaining the live cells imaging to the Lord Mayor during his visit to Confocal Lab 23rd January 2012





  Dr Awais with confocal 2015 v2.jpg












Dr Awais imaging mitochondrial membrane potential of acinar cells. Pancreatic acinar cells are among the most synthetically active cells in the body. The acinar cells produce digestive enzymes, which facilitate the digestion of carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids. The synthesis of digestive enzymes requires a great deal of energy. Because of this, acinar cells contain an inordinate number of mitochondria. A loss of mitochondrial membrane potential is one of the main causes of mitochondrial dysfunction, which activates necrotic (uncontrolled) and apoptotic (programmed) cell-death pathway. Red, mitochondria of the acinar cells.

Dr Awais with PhD student training on confocal 2015 v2.jpg













Dr Awais providing training to a PhD Student on confocal imaging of live cells.

Dr Awais supervising undergrad student on confocal 2015 v2.jpg

















An undergraduate student, undertaking a work experience placement in the PBRU, is learning cell imaging on the confocal.