The Marine Biological Association

Promoting marine scientific excellence and representing the marine biological community since 1884

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EMBO Practical Course in Advanced Optical Microscopy

EMBO logo 2012

Co-sponsored by the Wellcome Trust, the Company of Biologists (CoB) and Journal of Cell Science, the European Microscopy Society (EMS) and the Royal Microscopical Society (RMS).


Wednesday 06 – Saturday 16 April 2016

Practical Course Location:

The Marine Biological Association
The Laboratory
Citadel Hill
PL1 2PB U.K.

Tel: +44 (0)1752-633337/633253
Fax: +44(0)1752-262043


DOWNLOAD the Poster

Entry on the EMBO calendar at

The course takes place in the Laboratory of the Marine Biological Association from Wednesday 06 – Saturday 16 April 2015.  Accommodation comprises bed and breakfast in local guesthouse (nights Wednesday 06 — Friday 15 April inclusive for Saturday mid-day departure), lunch in the MBA common room, and evening meals can be taken in local restaurants.


There will be 2–3 lectures each day throughout. Lectures will cover topics from basic optics, detectors and light sources through to photochemistry involved in the development of novel fluorescent probes and the application of advanced super-resolution optical microscopy techniques.  The first 3 days will be spent setting up microscopes for brightfield and epifluorescence microscopy, including polarisation and interference contrast methods. The final 6 days will be organised in rotations around the 9 experiments listed below. The experiments will be in the large classroom at the MBA and in rooms nearby. Use will be made of marine specimens where possible and students may have an opportunity to trawl for benthos and plankton, depending on weather and availability of the MBA research vessel.

For an idea of the teaching schedule, please see DRAFT TIMETABLE

Developmental Biology

Experiments with confocal imaging.  CCD imaging and deconvolution, microinjection, genetically encoded probes, gene gun.

Cell Physiology

Confocal imaging with electrophysiology
CCD imaging with electrophysiology
Photolysis and photometry
Total internal reflection fluorescence imaging
Laser traps
Marine bioluminescence

Special demonstrations and hands-on exercises

  • Multi-photon and confocal imaging
  • Quantitative interference microscopy
  • Use of an optical bench for basic experiments on scanning and apertures
  • Spectroscopy and filters
  • Abbe’s experiments on the role of diffraction in microscope image formation with absorption and phase objects.


Preparations used will include: invertebrate preparations (tunicates, molluscan neurones), zebra fish, mammalian brain slices, Fucus, Arabidopsis, and cell lines.

Poster Session

Students at the course will be invited to display a small poster of their current research and time will be allocated for presentation and discussion.


There is usually a 3:1 ratio of applications to places, and there will be up to 20 places on the course.

Please submit the Application Form by email, attaching your Curriculum Vitae and Research Project (giving a concise description of your research, your reasons for wishing to attend and your experience of techniques taught on the course) and PDF copy of a signed Letter of Recommendation on organisation letterheaded notepaper from an academic referee, preferably PhD supervisor or Head of Laboratory.   This letter should indicate how your research, the laboratory in which you work and the area of research that you intend to pursue will benefit from your participation on the course.

Please make the subject of the email ‘Application EMBO 2016′ followed by your surname.

Please send these three parts to arrive no later than midnight 21 January 2016:

All email submissions will be acknowledged. Applicants who are visa dependent will need to apply for tourist visas.  Letters will be provided to those in need of supporting visa documentation.


There will be a registration fee for students accepted on the course of 400 Euros, but it may be possible to waive this fee in case of difficulty in paying, particularly for students from Eastern Europe.  Accommodation, breakfast and lunches are included.  Students who wish to request help towards fees should clearly indicate this in their application, and in their covering letter. However, candidates from industry who are accepted as students will be required to pay 1000 euro to the MBA.

Travel Costs

A very limited amount of funding for students’ travel costs will be available. This will be distributed according to country of origin, following EMBO guidelines. Students who wish to claim travel expenses should clearly indicate this in their application.


Each day, there will be two lectures in the morning (probably 9.00 and 11.00), then practical work, and a lecture in the early evening, probably 6 pm.

Enquiries can be directed to

Pre-course reading

Dr Brad Amos’ lecture at the Royal Society (45 mins) on revolutionary microscopy:  (click ‘Watch the video’)


Co-sponsored by

Company of Biologists Logo RMS LogoWellcome trust