They may not have the latest TEM technology at Albany Medical Center, but the microscope they do have has been working just fine from exactly the same spot where it was installed 27 years ago. Dr. Joseph E. Mazurkiewicz, Professor and Director of AMC Imaging Core Facility, recalls that the JEOL 100CX TEM was installed in June of 1984, when EM was in its heyday and “people were doing a lot of EM and a variety of users were looking at tissue samples of different kinds.” While Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy had become the imaging tool of choice for cell biologists, EM is coming back as researchers realize that the resolution they seek can only be achieved at the ultrastructural level.
For a few years the TEM at AMC had been relegated to routine pathology, examination of biopsies of the liver and kidney tissues. However, the awarding of several NIH grants to researchers at AMC that involve electron microscopic studies have rejuvenated TEM usage and the old 100CX is still up to it. One of the studies involves examination of dorsal root ganglia tissue from normal spinal columns compared to those from patients with Friedrich’s Ataxia (a rare inherited disease that affects the nervous system and mobility). Another research project involves the infectious disease bacterial agent Francisella Tularensis, which has been developed as a potential bio weapon. When he needs higher resolution imaging, Dr. Mazurkiewicz will go downtown to the Wadsworth Center for Laboratories and Research.
Through the years, AMC has had a service contract for the 100CX plus the JSM-35C, an older model SEM. Whenever they require service, Dr. Mazurkiewicz is in touch with the local JEOL office and sometimes works through problems over the phone.
“Dr. Mazurkiewicz always gives us a good indication of what is going on so we are prepared when we get out there and he has always been pretty much right on,” says William Thorpe, who headed up JEOL’s northeast regional service area until moving to the Maryland area this year.
“As the TEM ages and parts become more rare, we sometimes have to put in things that don’t come off the shelf,” says Dr. Mazurkiewicz, who first used a JEOL TEM from his graduate student to post-doc years at the University of Colorado Health Science Center and later while working at Yale University School of Medicine . “A lot of senior guys grew up on the JEOL 100B and 100C. It’s a very good workhorse.” He purchased the TEM from JEOL’s Technology Center in Peabody, Mass. “I like to say I bought a good used car – like a pre-owned ‘Mercedes’ that had all the bells and whistles on it.”