Live Cell Imaging


Course Objective

This course will provide the student with theoretical and practical
knowledge to utilize emerging cellular and sub-cellular imaging
technologies in neuroscience.

Course Content

Advances in light microscopy, digital image processing, and the
development of a variety of powerful fluorescent probes present
expanding opportunities for investigating the nervous system, from
synaptic terminals to networks in the brain. This intensive theoretical
and practical course will provide participants in-depth knowledge to
utilize emerging imaging technologies. The primary emphasis of the
course will be on vital light microscopy. Students will learn the
principles of light microscopy, as well as use of different types of
electronic cameras, laser scanning systems, functional fluorophores,
delivery techniques, and digital image-processing software. In addition
to transmitted light microscopy for viewing cellular motility, the
course will examine a variety of molecular probes of cell function,
including calcium-sensitive dyes, voltage-sensitive dyes, photoactivated
("caged") compounds, and exocytosis and vesicle trafficking tracers.
Issues arising in the combination of imaging with electrophysiological
methods will be covered. Particular weight will be given to single- and
multi-photon laser scanning microscopy, photo-stimulation techniques and
to newly available biological fluorophores, especially Green-Fluorescent
Protein (GFP) and its variants.

Teaching Methods

This is a full time course. In the first two weeks we will address all
major live cell imaging techniques and their applications in a series of
lectures and Masterclass meetings with experts in the field. A mid-term
exam will test the obtained knowledge. The last 2 weeks will be devoted
to hands-on experiments in the lab in small groups. Students will
perform 2 imaging experiments under guidance of an experienced PhD-
student or Postdoc.

Method of Assessment

Oral group presentations of results experiments (50%) and Mid-term Exam
(50%). Students need to pass both parts (grade > 5.5) to obtain final

Entry Requirements

1st year Master of Neurociences or equivalent. Course is also open to
year Master students from other courses and to non-VU neurosciences
students but ONLY if course is not filled-up by VU Master students.
Non-Neurosciences master students NEED to contact course
coordinator (Ruud Toonen with study program details
for eligibility check prior to
self enrolment.


Course coordinators will provide selected chapters from Live Cell
Imaging. A laboratory Manual. Editors: Goldman and Spector and a
selection of primary scientific papers at start of the course.

Target Audience

2nd year Master of Neuroscience students.

Additional Information

Maximum number of students is 20. Master of Neuroscience students will
have priority. Vacant positions (if any) will be filled on basis of
first come first serve but
only after eligibility check.
For further information and application, please contact: Dr. R. Toonen
( or Dr. R. Meredith (

Custom Course Registration

Standard VU enrolment. Non-neuroscience master students need to contact course coordinators with study program details for eligibility check prior to self enrolment.

General Information

Course Code AM_470726
Credits 6 EC
Period P1
Course Level 500
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator dr. R.F.G. Toonen
Examiner dr. R.F.G. Toonen
Teaching Staff dr. R.F.G. Toonen
dr. R.M. Meredith

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Lecture