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The Translational Pathology Shared Resource (TPSR) was established in 2011. It provides University of Illinois Cancer Center (UICC) members with access to a comprehensive range of services involving the analysis of animal model and human tissue samples. These services include basic and advanced histological techniques, chemical staining and immunohistochemistry, digital slide scanning, image analysis, tissue microarray design and construction, and laser capture microdissection. In addition, it provides consultation for projects from pathologists with both clinical and laboratory animal expertise.
Meet Our Team
Andre Kajdacsy Balla, MD, PhD, TPSR Leader
Professor of Pathology, board-certified clinical and surgical pathologist began this position in September 2022, Dr. Balla has provided surgical pathology support to TPSR and UICC members since 2003 as Director of the Division of Transdisciplinary Pathology in the Department of Pathology. He has participated as a PI or as a collaborator in multiple grants on cancer biology and novel imaging methods such as FT-IR spectroscopy and Spatial Light Interference Microscopy.
Eileen Brister, PhD, Research Tissue Imaging Core
Dr. Brister is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology with expertise in imaging and image processing. They manage the day-to-day operations of the Research Tissue Imaging Core and develop digital pathology methods for reproducible, automated analysis of tissue morphology and biomarkers in human and animal tissues. They are available for consultations regarding tissue imaging and digital analysis approaches.
Subhasis Das, MSc, PhD
Patient-Derived Models Laboratory
Dr. Das is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery with broad expertise in developing preclinical cancer models, including PDXs, PDOs, and metastatic models. He has established the patient-derived models’ core lab and plays a leadership role in creating and performing experiments using patient-derived models. He provides direct service and consultation to investigators studying potential drug responses.
Maria Sverdlov, PhD, MS
Dr. Sverdlov, a Research Assistant Professor in Pathology, joined TPSR in 2016 after completing postdoctoral studies in pathology at Northwestern and UIC. She oversees the day-to-day operations of the research histology core and develops and validates novel and complex immunohistochemical and molecular (RNAscope) assays on human and animal tissue. She is available for consultations on sample preparation and experimental assay design.
Maarten Bosland DVM, PhD,
Animal Pathology Consultant
Dr. Bosland serves as one of the primary pathology consultants available to TPSR clients and staff. He is a Professor of Pathology (Emeritus) who is trained in veterinary pathology with special expertise in laboratory animal models. He is available for consultation on interpreting complex histology in laboratory animals, including phenotypic characterization of genetically manipulated models.
Peter Gann, MD, ScD
A Professor of Pathology (Emeritus), Dr. Gann has 25+ years of experience in cancer biomarker research, including the development of tissue-based biomarkers and digital imaging techniques for quantitative analysis. He established the Division of Pathology Research at UIC in 2006, serving as the TPSR Director from 2016 to 2022. He is a consultant in study design, cancer biology, and tissue imaging new technologies.
Virgilia Macias, MD, TMA/LCM
Dr. Macias is a research surgical pathologist with training in oncologic surgical pathology, electron microscopy, and immunohistochemistry. She is currently a Research Assistant Professor in the Division of Transdisciplinary Pathology at UIC. She has been conducting translational research for 20+ years. In addition to LCM and TMA services, she performs central histology reviews of pathological entities.
TPSR Major Services
The TPSR supports its users through consultation, direct services, and relevant training and education.
The TPSR staff is available to UICC members for consultation regarding:
- Human and laboratory animal pathology
- Digital imaging
- Laser capture
- Tissue microarrays (TMAs)
- Patient-derived organoid / xenograft (PDO/PDX) development
Complex projects begin with a free 1-hour consultation that results in a plan and related cost estimate.
For grant proposals, the TPSR provides budget details, text regarding methodology, and information regarding facilities. The TPSR also connects investigators with pathology faculty who have specialized knowledge related to their research.
Through its Research Histology Core (RHC), TPSR offers a full range of basic histology services, including:
- Specimen processing
- RNA/DNA extraction
- Direct chemical staining
We also provide antibody validation and optimization of immunochemistry protocols.
Advanced histology methods, such as multiplex staining using chromagen or fluorescence labeling, and CISH/FISH are also available.
The Research Tissue Imaging Core (RTIC) provides whole-slide digital scanning, allowing users to view, annotate, and share histology images with free Web-based software (Aperio ImageScope®).
Projects requiring image analysis begin with a consultation involving both histology and imaging specialists in order to ensure that staining is optimal.
A suite of image analysis modules from Indicalabs (HALO®) serves as the main platform for most brightfield (and selected fluorescence) analyses. These modules include machine learning capability and algorithms for a wide range of digital pathology tasks, including:
- Quantification of signals in various cell compartments
- Area quantification (e.g., inflammatory foci)
- Tumor vascularization analysis
- Spatial analysis
- TMA analysis
- Serial section registration
Images obtained on the multispectral Vectra system are typically analyzed using inForm® and Phenoptics® software (Akoya Biosciences), whose capabilities include spatial analysis of multiple molecular or cellular targets in an image. A Nanostring nCounter® instrument is available for image based quantification of multiplexed, bar-coded RNA transcripts from tissue or cell specimens.
To receive TMA services, UICC members meet with a research pathologist (Dr. V. Macias) to design the TMA. Once IRB approval is obtained and a design is final, archival tissue blocks are accessioned, usually through the UI Biorepository. Macias uses whole-slide scans of H&E-stained sections to select areas for core punching using either an automated or manual array device.
Investigators interested in PDX/PDO modelseither receive training in how to develop and maintain models in their own labs or direct services involving the entire process, from harvesting of primary cells to initial culturing and propagation/expansion of specimens in either xenografts or 3D culture.
Training & Education
The TPSR provides education and training on:
- Preparation of tissue samples for histological analysis, including microtome/cryostat use
- Laser capture microdissection
- Basic image analysis
- Developing and maintaining PDX and PDO specimens
TPSR organized three seminars in 2019-2020, co-sponsored with Nanostring and Akoya focusing on multiplex spatial imaging.
For more information or questions related to the University of Illinois Cancer Center shared resources, please email UICCSR@uic.edu.