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Strategic grant

Implanted optical imaging laboratories for deep-tissue in vivo imaging

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At a glance

Award date
March 2015 - November 2018
Grant amount
£352,774 (Funded by EPSRC)
Principal investigator
Professor Andrew Harvey
University of Glasgow


  • Reduction



This project aims to reduce animal use across a number of research areas, including tracking cell fate and biodistribution of macromolecules, by developing a miniaturised implantable microscope for long term longitudinal imaging in the same mouse or rat. 


In vivo microscopic imaging is widespread for fundamental research using animal models in biomedicine, for drug discovery and tracking disease progression. Deep-tissue imaging is highly invasive and so animals are normally killed after each measurement. In long term experiments involving measurements taken at multiple time points, for example, cell migration studies, groups of animals are used at each time point, resulting in large numbers of animals being used to achieve a reliable research outcome. 

This project will develop a miniaturised self-contained microscope suitable for in vivo implantation for long term longitudinal deep-tissue imaging. This will enable the same animal to be imaged at multiple time points, reducing the total number of animals needed per study. 

Research details and methods

This research will take advantage of recent technological advances in engineering and miniaturisation. The microscope will enable epifluorescence imaging employing a 5Mpixel ST camera module optimised for the low-light performance that is required for fluorescence microscopy. The development and utility of the device will be assessed initially in rat and mouse cadavers. Subsequent in vivo validation will be demonstrated by tracking the migration of neural stem cells within the spinal cord of mice in real-time.



  1. van der Putten MA et al. (2017). A multispectral microscope for in vivo oximetry of rat dorsal spinal cord vasculature. Physiological Measurement 38(2):205-218. doi: 10.1088/1361-6579/aa5527
  2. van der Putten MA et al. (2017). Multispectral oximetry of murine tendon microvasculature with inflammation. Biomedical Optics Express 8(6):2896-2905. doi: 10.1364/BOE.8.002896