Translational Biomedical Imaging Laboratory - TBIL

About the Translational Biomedical Imaging Laboratory

Using imaging technologies to observe the natural course of biology in action, within living organisms, will help accelerate development of new diagnostics and treatments.

The Translational Biomedical Imaging Laboratory (TBIL) provides dynamic imaging equipment and technical expertise to accelerate the trajectory of scientific discovery from bench to bedside, and is currently collaborating on studies that include intestinal stem cell propagation, neuroblastoma and heart regeneration. TBIL is designed as a research accelerator that brings clinicians together with researchers who are defining the basic mechanisms that build organs, so that they can design better therapies.

Bioimaging includes powerful, innovative tools for the study of biological processes—such as confocal microscopes that can image virtually any specimen on a slide or culture dish, live-cell imaging and in-vivo fluorescence imaging.  Additionally, confocal laser scanning microscopy allows investigators to acquire in-focus images from selected depths, a process known as optical sectioning. Images are then acquired point by point and reconstructed with a computer, allowing three-dimensional reconstructions of topologically complex structures. All of these methods hold enormous potential for a wide variety of diagnostic and therapeutic applications.






For example, with TBIL’s wide array of advanced imaging microscopes and instrumentation resources, a research investigator can follow the cells of a developing organ and see when and how a congenital defect occurs – providing an opportunity to intervene and change the outcome. 

The mission of TBIL is to develop new technologies for the imaging of biological structure and function. The technologies employed at the lab range from conventional light microscopy and laser scanning microscopy, to optical coherence tomography and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) microscopy.

As these technologies are refined, they are made available to the members of the CHLA and USC research community, serving  dual, complementary roles as a research center and as a user facility.

To explore varied research topics, TBIL researchers employ advanced imaging tools to follow events as they take place inside an intact organism. These methods continue to yield unique longitudinal data, as well as insightful tests of proposals made from molecular or cell culture data.

Instrumentation Capabilities

  • Live Imaging Lab – with a multi-spectral, multi-photon microscope for high-resolution imaging of living specimens
  • High-Speed Microscopy Lab – offering high-speed, volumetric imaging
  • Extended Volume Imaging Lab – providing an integrated microtome and laser-scanning microscope for imaging large specimens
  • Quantitative Image Analysis and Visualization Suite – providing high resolution workstations for image processing and image analysis The “Collaboratory” –interaction space with high resolution video and video conferencing capabilities

Fantastic Voyage to the Lung

Using newly optimized visualization technology at TBIL, researchers can now perform a ‘virtual bronchoscopy’ that begins in the bronchus and allows them to peer into the alveolus. In a collaboration led by David Warburton, MD, researchers are seeking to radically transform our understanding of the formation of the gas exchange surface in the human lung, find new approaches to the care of premature infants, and develop a better understanding of the numerous childhood- and adult-onset lung diseases. The research team was awarded $4 million by the NIH (2014) to map the developing lung.


Scott E. Fraser, PhD


 Rex Moats, PhD