Auburn Laboratory for Imaging Animal Systems (Project ALIAS)

The goal of Project ALIAS is to provide support for Auburn researchers attempting to address complex biology questions using small animal imaging. Bioluminescence, fluorescence and radiologic imaging modalities are available for use in small animals for the purpose of assessing the various disease progression models (e.g. Atherosclerosis, Diabetes, Infectious Disease and Cancer) and evaluating efficacy of indicated or novel therapies to alter disease progression.


  • Operating all existing imaging and physiology equipment contained in the center
  • Providing consultation to investigators regarding the design, performance and analysis of animal imaging experiments
  • Ensuring proper maintenance and calibration of the equipment assigned to the laboratory
  • Ensuring that all experiments conducted within the Laboratory are performed according to approved protocols


MSOT inVision 256-TF

Multi-Spectral Optoacoustic Tomography (MSOT) for Deep Tissue Fluorescence Imaging:  Installed in April 2014, the Project ALIAS has acquired the MSOT-256-TF (iThera Medical), which offers real-time whole body opto-acoustic imaging.  Biological processes and the effect of pharmacological substances can be observed in vivo, in deep tissue, in real time, and in high resolution.  The resolution exceeds that of even Fluorescence Molecular Tomography (FMT) and will be used by the Center and its users to broaden our understanding of the pathophysiology of certain disease states in rodent models. Endogenous chromophores, such as oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin, as well as extrinsically administered probes can be differentiated after a single scan by collecting a series ultrasound datasets at defined excitation laser wavelengths. The collected so-called photo-acoustic or opto-acoustic signal requires post-processing and reconstruction of the images after acquisition to spectrally un-mix the signals, corresponding to the different individual channels, based on the absorbance spectra of your target probes or agents of interest.

Auburn University is only one of five sites in North America with this technology as of June 2015.

 Technical Information provided on the MSOT-256-TF system:

  • Single-wavelength imaging at 10 Hz frame rate
  • Real-time spectral component visualization at up to 5 Hz frame rate
  • Penetration depth of 2-4 cm, sufficient for whole-body small animal imaging
  • Cross-sectional spatial in-plane resolution: 150 μm
  • High-energy / fast-tunable laser system (100 mJ / 10 ms)
  • Tomographic ultrasound detector array with 256 elements
  • Image acquisition fully automated
  • Data post-processing suite for spectral and temporal analysis


Bioluminescence, fluorescence and X-ray Imaging: Project ALIAS has an IVIS Lumina XRMS system.

Camera – The unit contains an integrated Andor Technologies Cooled CCD USB Camera cooled to -90 C to provide sensitivity over the long integration times.

Fluorescence – Spectral un-mixing uses a combination of 8 narrow band-pass emission filters and software algorithms to reduce auto-fluorescence background, thereby improving resolution. Project ALIAS has upgraded its IVIS Lumina XRMS with the high-resolution side-imaging mirrors (shown to the right) and purchase of the Dynamic Contrast Enhancement (DyCE) imaging module. The DyCE software allows users to monitor kinetics following injection of fluorescent probes, activatable agents, NIR dyes or radioisotope probes for Cerenkov imaging.

Integrated X-Ray Module – The sensitivity of the camera enables fast anatomical X-ray acquisitions on the average of 10 seconds, limiting the dosage of radiation to the subject less than 3 mGy.  Project ALIAS has also upgraded the original Lumina XR system to the multiple species platform denoted as IVIS Lumina XRMS, which is now capable of imaging rats as well as mice.   Project ALIAS has also added a high-resolution X-Ray Zoom Len (ZFOV) module to the IVIS Lumina XRMS system to allow for high magnification for areas of interest.    

IVIS Lumina XRMS accessories – Our IVIS Lumina XRMS system is also now equipped with accessories that include the following: Animal Isolation Chamber Kit XIC-3 (Cat No. 123997), Multi-view platform (Cat No. CLS134956), XGI-8 Anesthesia system (Cat No. 118918), ZFOV Zoom Lens (Cat No. 127285), and XWS-260 Workbench (Cat No. 119207).  See attached accessories.

Nikon AZ100

Ex vivo Fluorescence Imaging:  The AZ100 Multizoom represents a new concept in zoom microscopes. It covers an extremely wide range of magnifications, from 5x to 400x, effectively combining the advantages provided by stereo zoom microscopes and compound microscopes. Thanks to a smooth zooming mechanism and a unique triple nosepiece, the AZ100 can continuously switch magnifications, extending from macro to micro observation of the same specimen.  Nuance FX Multispectral imaging camera is also available. 

TS420 Meter

In vivo Blood Flow and Cardiac Function Measurements: Project ALIAS has a Transonic TS420 400-Series Perivascular flowmeter module and cardiac pressure-volume (PV) loop system. PV loop systems are considered the “Gold” standard in cardiac functional assessment and are useful in determination of myocardial contractility, compliance, muscle energetic and other important quantitative measures of function.  Readouts are measured through a lab master unit and analyzed in real-time by Lab Chart software.

Note to users: PV loop transducing catheters and blood flow meters are extremely fragile and typically labs that will need frequent usage should acquire their own before commencing a project.

Inspira Ventilator

Small Animal Ventilator: Project ALIAS has a Harvard Apparatus Inspira Ventilator.  Internal setting can be modified for mice, rats, and other larger animals.  It also has a TTL signal output that can be read by the Power Lab station on the Transonic System.

Fujifilm FLA-5100 Scanner

Ex vivo Fluorescence and Autoradiography Imaging (located in Walker 4202): Project ALIAS has a Fujifilm FLA-5100 equipped with an SHG blue laser (473nm), SHG green laser (532nm) and LD red laser (635nm) and a far-red (670nm) laser. For autoradiography measurement, there is an Image Eraser 3 for use with phosphor and tritium screens.


Fee structures are being established in consultation with university officials and members of the Auburn University Research Initiative in Cancer (AURIC) advisory committee for long-term maintenance of existing equipment and acquisition of new imaging modalities.  Hourly rates have been established at $50 per imaging session for the IVIS Lumina XR (session consist of initialization of the instrument and 30 minutes imaging time) and $10 per scan for the FujiFilms FLA-5100 .  Preliminary feasibility data acquisition requests will be reviewed and granted based on individual consultation with Dr. Panizzi. Please check instrument and room availability through the Project ALIAS  calendar.

All labs and investigators are required to remember to bring disposable items:  gloves, lab absorbent chucks, disinfectant wipes, black artisan page, and isoflurane to the center prior to their imaging session.

Dr. Peter Panizzi
Project ALIAS Director
Harrison School of Pharmacy
247 Pharmacy Research Building 
(334) 844-7941