Neural Cell Engineering & Imaging (NCEI) Core

NCEI Core Director:

Dr. Kostantin Dobrenis

NCEI Core Assistant Director:

Dr. Solen Gokhan

NCEI Core Assistant Director:

Dr. David Hall


The overall goal of the NCEI Core is to provide comprehensive support—advice, assistance and advanced tools—to IDDRC investigators engaging in studies at the cell biology level. As such, this Core is of central importance to the goals of the RFK IDDRC. Cell biology lies at the crossroads of molecular and whole organism studies, and by today’s expectations it is difficult to imagine any complete research study of IDD that would not touch on cell biology in some manner. Genetic mutations, biomolecules and mechanisms need to be explored in the context of the cell to demonstrate relevance; brain development cannot be studied without its cellular components; and observed changes in cognition and behavior need be ultimately explained by underlying cellular interactions. Accordingly, NCEI also seeks to further facilitate the ability of investigators to effectively bridge molecular changes to the whole organism. This includes collaborating with other IDDRC Cores, providing instruments and tools that facilitate gene delivery into cells and tissues, performing selection and isolation of cells from culture or tissues for gene expression and proteomic study, and facilitating introduction of genes and cells into living animals to support neuroanatomical studies.

Core Oversight


The NCEI Core is composed of three major SubCores: Modern Microscopy (MM), Cell and Tissue Engineering (CTE), and Analysis and Graphics (AG). MM is subdivided into the Optical Microscopy (OM) and Electron Microscopy (EM) units, and CTE is subdivided into the Handling and Preparation (HP) and Manipulation and Selection (MS) units. HP supports procurement, establishment and maintenance of cell and tissue culture preparations. MS provides advice and resources for in vivo and in vitro cell and molecular experimental manipulations. SubCore AG addresses all needs related to processing and analysis of microscopy image data and data from cell and tissue studies, as well as graphics and computer management.

IDDRC investigators have priority access to training and services. They can schedule training, assistance or access to equipment well in advance; those with currently NIH-funded IDD projects are given preference. Non-IDDRC users can secure time no more than 1 week in advance or go on a waiting list for a time slot >1 week in advance with the understanding this might be rescheduled if needed by an IDDRC investigator. To the extent possible, the Core facilitates mutually agreeable scheduling changes to accommodate last minute needs for presentations or grant applications. Below is a summary of NCEI Core Services and fees:

NCEI Core Fee Schedule

Summary of NCEI Core Services & User Fees
Type of service IDDRC rate Non-IDDRC rate
Optical Microscopy subdivision:
Training on all instruments
Olympus Confocal assisted and unassisted
Zeiss Confocal assisted and unassisted
Bruker Multiphoton In Vivo
Neurolucida/StereoInvestigator assisted and unassisted
Olympus MTS automated widefield assisted and unassisted
Fluorescence plate reader & liquid handling assisted and unassisted
Other widefield microscopes assisted and unassisted

$90/hr and $32/hr
$100/hr and $35/hr
$30/hr and $20/hr
$75/hr and $12/hr
$50/hr and $25/hr
$50/hr and $30/hr
$30/hr and $22/hr

$110/hr and $40/hr
$110/hr and $40/hr
$110/hr and $55/hr
$110/hr and $15/hr
$110/hr and $33/hr
$60/hr and $40/hr
$110/hr and $33/hr
Electron Microscopy subdivision:
Embedding assisted (no charge unassisted)
Thin sectioning assisted (no charge unassisted)
EM microscope training/assisted, and unassisted (approximate, see above)
Tomography, assisted operation in all cases

$90/hr and $55/hr
no charge

$110/hr and $85/hr
no charge
Handling and Preparation subdivision:
Gas, temperature and humidity controlled tissue culture incubator use
Laminar Flow aseptic hood use
Tissue culture training on prep & maintenance of basic in vitro formats


Manipulation and Selection subdivision:
BSL2 Facilities use
Generation of specific developmental cell types assisted
Procurement of murine ES cell lines
Generation of iPS and direct somatic cell lines and organoids assisted
Ultrasound guided implantation in embryonic mice training & unassisted
Stereotactic surgery for postnatal and adult brain training and unassisted
Laser Capture and Microdissection training/assisted and unassisted
Helios Gene Gun training, assisted and unassisted

$120/hr and $80/hr
$50/hr and $25/hr
$55/hr and $30/hr

$180/hr and $125/hr
$75/hr and $40/hr
$110/hr and $50/hr
Analysis and Graphics division:
Image processing and analysis training, assisted and unassisted
Graphic design, custom computer programming/macro and script writing
Poster printing

$75/hr, $75/hr, no charge
$7/sq. ft.

$80/hr, $110/hr, $22/hr
$9/sq. ft.

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