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General

While we provide histology services which may mirror other cores on campus, we differ both in our involvement in the research process and our pricing structure. Many of our customers bring to us difficult projects–locating specific ROIs in embryos, brains, hearts, and other organs, sectioning entirely through a piece of tissue collecting all slices on slide, cryosectioning bone or other fragile material using CryoJane technology, and antibody research to determine appropriate titrations for multiple antibodies to label the same slide are some examples of customer requests we do on a regular basis.  The time invested in a given customer’s project simply cannot be appropriately captured in a per-slide cost so our core opts to charge projects at an hourly rate. Depending on the number of samples, types of stains, types of tissue, etc. this may come out to be much less expensive than another core– feel free to ask us to quote your specific project anytime!
We can begin discussion with you about your project at any stage in the research process.  Some people contact us when they have tissue in fixative and are ready for embedding, others bring us already embedded blocks or frozen tissue, and still others contact us at the beginning of their research process to help determine the best fixative to use for their needs or to help determine appropriate end-point stains. We always encourage researchers to contact us earlier in the research process if they have not done histology work themselves or worked with our core previously.
We charge by the hour for most sectioning and by slide for staining. Our rates are currently undergoing a rate revision–please contact Ashley for an up-to-date pricing quote. 

 

For chromogenic IHC customers are expected to provide the primary antibody, the core provides a species-appropriate secondary and all other reagents. If special kits such as a mouse-on-mouse kit is required, that can be done at the customer’s expense. For fluorescent IHC customers are expected to provide both the primary and the secondary antibodies. Both chromogenic and fluorescent IHC are charged at 10 hours/rack of 24 slides.

For RNAscope customers are expected to provide the probe in addition to a per-slide fee.

Billing is done once a month through our department’s accounting office.

We can section properly fixed samples. At this time we have to assume ALL human samples are potentially Covid-19 positive unless they were collected prior to the pandemic or are certified Covid-19 free.  Please contact Ashley to discuss proper fixation to inactivate the SARS-CoV2 virus. 
We strive to meet a 2-week turn around time for all customers. This is not always possible for projects with a very large number of samples or very involved IHCs requiring multiple titrations and customer feedback before proceeding, but even in those cases we try to ensure our customer has received some part of their histology request back in that time frame.
Yes! We understand that customer’s may be up against grant or reviewer deadlines and are are happy to accommodate rush orders. Rush orders are charged an extra 50% of the cost of the total order.
UNC Core policies recommend that all work provided by the Histology Research Core Facility be acknowledged when included in publications. Acknowledgements can be referenced as: Histological services provided by the Histology Research Core Facility in the Department of Cell Biology and Physiology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill NC.

Additionally, employees of the core who substantially contributed to a research publication should be recognized as any other co-author.

UNC SOM offers these helpful publication guidelines: http://www.abrf.org/index.cfm/page/resources/Authorship.htm.

For our continued educational benefit, please send notification of assisted publications to jezzell@email.unc.edu

We regularly ship through FedEx overnight shipping. We do require a customer’s account number to charge shipping expenses.  We also can ship through UPS or the state-courier system for state-affiliated customers upon customer request.

Covid-19

Employees are wearing masks and practicing frequent hand washing.  All bags and sample material are sanitized with 70% ethanol upon drop off and prior to return. Building is key-card access only and we are asking to meet customers OUTSIDE of Taylor Hall unless lab equipment is necessary for the meeting.  All drop offs and pick ups are scheduled in advance to avoid having multiple customers at the same time.
Please refer here. We CAN section properly fixed paraffin or frozen-embedded samples.  We CANNOT section or handle unfixed sample at this time.

Sample Submission

If you’re unsure how to best describe what you want, it is best to talk to us in person or over the phone.  To accept an order we need contact and billing information as well as the current state of the tissue–whether it is paraffin or frozen blocks or if it is in fixative, ethanol, or some other solution.

The submission form can be found here!

Paraffin and frozen sectioning offer their own advantages and disadvantages. Paraffin will give you much better morphology than frozen tissue, however we can section unfixed non-pathogenic frozen tissue. Additionally, cryosectioning can allow better lipid and enzymatic staining and some antibodies may have been validated in one method but not the other– all which may affect why you choose on method over another.  If you are unsure which way you want to go, please contact us to discuss your project.
Samples intended for paraffin sectioning should be fixed for an appropriate length of time. They can be delivered to us in either fixative or already in 70% ethanol and either in labeled cassettes or in marked vials. If you do not give us tissue in labeled cassettes you will incur a charge to use ours and for the time spent on labeling and transferring your tissue. Fixed samples intended for frozen sectioning can be brought either in fixative or in a 30% sucrose cryoprotectant. We do not have the capability of flash-freezing tissue here, that must be done in your lab.
Serial sectioning is when sections are collected in the sequential and continuous order in which they were cut from a block. There are no breaks in this method of section collection.

Interrupted sectioning is when there is a skip in microns within a sample in order to collect a section from a different area in the same tissue sample. For example, a customer may request a 200 micron skip between sections. If this is requested, an initial section will be collected and then 200 microns will be trimmed away before a second section is collected.

You will receive an e-mail to the contact e-mail listed when your samples are ready for pick up.

Immunohistochemistry and Staining

Yes! We have a large slide inventory pull from for positive and negative control tissue. However, if your control tissue requires a disease state you will need to provide that.
We have experience with many different antibodies and would be happy to lend our expertise to help you decide. We also recommend our users to https://www.benchsci.com/ to aid in antibody selection. This software is free to academic users and unaffiliated with UNC. We find this site to be a very useful resource to comb the literature to see which antibodies have resulted in publication-quality research.
For chromogenic IHC you only need to supply the primary antibody. For fluorescent IHC you will need to supply both the primary and the secondary antibody. If your assay requires a special kit, such as a mouse-on-mouse kit, you will also need to purchase that.
We generally use heat-induced epitope retrieval (HIER) to aid in antigen retrieval. Our equipment has multiple temperature and time settings to accommodate different tissue types. We also have buffers of different pHs that we can use if needed. For very delicate tissue we also can use a detergent such as Tris-Triton.
Most antibody datasheets will offer a concentration or range of concentrations to try. We always suggest our customers run a titration, as tissue type, fixative, incubation time, and antigen-retrieval methods used can all affect what makes a concentration “best.” If you need assistance determining what concentrations you want please reach out and ask!

In situ Hybridization

ISH is a nucleic acid hybridization technique which uses probes to detect genes of interest. IHC is an immunological technique which uses antibodies to detect antigens of interest. Both are used to detect the gene or antigen of interest in the morphological context of a tissue section. The following article provides insights into how and when the two methodologies can be used to complement each other.