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Prof Gail McConnell



A 340/380 nm light emitting diode illuminator for Fura-2 AM ratiometric Ca2+ imaging of live cells with better than 5 nM precision
Tinning P. W., Franssen A. J. P. M., Hridi S. U., Bushell T. J., McConnell G.
Journal of Microscopy, (2017)
A 340/380 nm light emitting diode illuminator for Fura-2 AM ratiometric Ca2+ imaging of live cells with better than 5 nM precision
Tinning Peter William, Franssen Aimee, Hridi Shehla Unaiza, Bushell Trevor, McConnell Gail
MMC (2017), (2017)
A 340/380 nm light emitting diode illuminator for Fura-2 AM ratiometric Ca2+ imaging of live cells with better than 5 nM precision
Tinning Peter William, Franssen Aimee, Hridi Shehla Unaiza, Bushell Trevor, McConnell Gail
Photonex, (2017)
Increased expression of IL-16 in the brain of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis
Hridi Shehla Unaiza, McCann Lee, McConnell Gail, Bushell Trevor J, Jiang Hui-Rong
Brain and Neuroscience Advances, (2017)
Tumor regression after intravenous administration of targeted vesicles entrapping the vitamin E α-tocotrienol
Karim Reatul, Somani Sukrut, Al Robaian Majed, Mullin Margaret, Amor Rumelo, McConnell Gail, Dufès Christine
Journal of Controlled Release Vol 246, pp. 79-87, (2017)
A femtosecond Raman generator for long wavelength two-photon and third harmonic generation imaging
Trägårdh J., Schniete J., Parsons M., McConnell G.
APL Photonics Vol 1, (2016)

more publications

Research interests

The optical microscope is so important to biomedicine that it is used as an icon to symbolise all science, but in the age of lasers, computers, digital detectors and new photochemistry the basic design of this classic tool of research can be greatly improved. My research involves the development of new optical instruments and technologies for cell and tissue imaging: this includes linear and nonlinear optics, new light sources, and new ways of preparing the specimen for imaging that reveals more structural information than the light microscope can normally provide.

An example of my interests is the Mesolens, where we have redesigned the microscope so that internal details of every cell of the millions present in a biological specimen of more than 100 cubic millimeters in volume can be seen. Our microscope does not use an eyepiece for recording, since the image exceeds the power of the human eye to perceive detail: our image datasets from a volume specimen are typically hundreds of gigabytes in size. We specified the novel optics for screening transgenic mouse embryos to discover human genes that might produce congenital abnormalities, such as vascular disease, which affects approximately one in two hundred human births. However, we are now finding applications throughout bioscience, e.g. in neuroscience and developmental studies. At the Strathclyde Mesolab, a newly created MRC-supported facility, we are working with life, physical and computer scientists worldwide to explore applications of our current technology and to develop new mesoscopic imaging modes that will provide a new insight into development and disease.

Professional activities

Sensors and their Applications XVI (Event)
Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (External organisation)
Institute of Physics (External organisation)
Sensors and their Applications XVI (Event)
Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (External organisation)
European Light Microscopy Initiative conference

more professional activities


EFucci and atlas of proliferation to reduce mouse usage in embryonic proliferation assays
McConnell, Gail (Principal Investigator)
Period 01-Oct-2014 - 30-Sep-2015
David Begg Studentship | Chen, Haochang
Li, David (Principal Investigator) McConnell, Gail (Co-investigator) Chen, Haochang (Research Co-investigator)
Period 01-Nov-2014 - 01-May-2018
TartanSW: a new method for spectrally-resolved standing wave cell microscopy and mesoscopy
McConnell, Gail (Principal Investigator) Bushell, Trevor (Co-investigator)
"Important biological processes such as cell movement depend on dynamic changes in the shape of the cell surface. As well as in motility and the ingestion of bacterial pathogens, the cell membrane changes shape actively in the formation of synapses between nerve cells and the handling of antigens by cells of the immune system. The neuronal growth cone shows protrusions occurring over a time scale of seconds and much faster movements are seen in many motile cells.

Unfortunately, conventional microscope methods fail to provide exact answers to one of the basic questions: 'what is the shape of the cell membrane and how high is it above the substrate in the case of attached cells?'. For 50 years reflection interference contrast has been used but this method actually reports the distribution of mass within the cell near to the membrane rather than the position of the membrane.

We have recently reported a standing wave method of fluorescence imaging to map the surface of the cell membrane with super-resolution in depth, using a method that is almost cost-free to implement in a biomedical sciences laboratory with standard resource and infrastructure. In our standing-wave work, we placed fluorescently-stained red blood cells atop a simple mirror instead of a microscope slide and using a standing wave (SW) to create sub-diffraction limited planes of illumination. We observed an axial resolution of around 90 nm, which is comparable to other the super-resolution techniques described, but because we generate multi-planar images, we can readily obtain 3D information on the specimen at this resolution.

The essence of this proposal is to add to this standing-wave work a new method which we call TartanSW (because of the similarity of the coloured fringe patterns to textile patterns). A contour map without heights marked on the lines is of little value, but we have discovered that by using multiple wavelength narrowband detection we can recognize the order of the standing wave antinodes by their colours and so tell the difference between hills and valleys.

We propose to first develop a simple imaging microscope system, capable of recording multiple wavelengths simultaneously at speeds of up to 100 images per second, to provide super-resolved 3D information on cell structure. We will first characterise the microscope with dye monolayers and model specimens, and then extend the TartanSW imaging to individual red cells prepared with a fluorescent label that stains the cell membrane. Based on our preliminary work we expect to be able to detect very tiny but high-speed changes in the structure of the red cell membrane. We will also apply the method to study the highly dynamic skeletal structure of neurones and follow the growth of the cell edge over time.

We also propose to perform TartanSW imaging with the Mesolens, a new giant objective lens that is capable of imaging large tissue specimens with sub-cellular resolution and which is at present unique to our laboratory. By applying TartanSW with the Mesolens, it will be possible to image hundreds of cells at even higher 3D resolution than the Mesolens can manage at present. We will apply TartanSW mesoscopy to study the same red cell and neurone specimens described previously, and in imaging hundreds of cells with high resolution simultaneously we expect it will be easier to detect rare events or abnormal cells that may indicate onset of disease, as in the malaria infected red cells which we have already studied.

We will aid and encourage other laboratories to take up super-resolution TartanSW microscopy, which could be implemented at low cost in any lab already equipped with a fluorescence microscope, and although the Mesolens is presently unique to Strathclyde, the existing Mesolab facility will support wide access to the proposed technology."
Period 01-Aug-2017 - 31-Oct-2018
Cost-effective medical hyperspectral imaging
Marshall, Stephen (Principal Investigator) McConnell, Gail (Co-investigator) McKee, David (Co-investigator) Ren, Jinchang (Co-investigator)
Period 01-Jul-2016 - 30-Jun-2018
Doctoral Training Partnership (DTA - University of Strathclyde) | Chen, Haochang
Li, David (Principal Investigator) McConnell, Gail (Co-investigator) Chen, Haochang (Research Co-investigator)
Period 01-Oct-2014 - 01-Oct-2017
EPSRC Doctoral Training Grant | Keatings, Stefanie Renaud
Riis, Erling (Principal Investigator) McConnell, Gail (Co-investigator)
Period 01-Oct-2007 - 27-Apr-2011

more projects


Hamnett Wing John Arbuthnott Building

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