Vision Research Center


News from the VRC

VRC Administration

VRC Facilities

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Vision Science Seminar


VRC Facilities

VRC services are generally available to Penn NEI grant holders. Some limited funds are available to support pilot research expected to lead to an NEI grant proposal/renewal. If you have such a project, please send an email ( request for approval in advance of using the services. The email should include a short description of the project and services requested.

A summary of the modules follows. Services for all modules are available to all VRC investigators, with priority given to participating investigators who currently hold NEI grants that qualify for P30 support (see for the guidelines under which we manage the P30.) To learn more about what services a module offers, or to schedule use, get in touch with the primary contact person listed for the module.

Please remember to acknowledge the support of the core grant in any publications that describe work that received support from it (P30 EY001583).


Dr. Gui-Shuang Ying, Primary Contact
3535 Market, Suite 700/3309  
Dr. Maureen Maguire, Module Director 
3535 Market, Suite 700/3309 

Consultation in design and analysis of clinical and laboratory research. No co-pay required at present.

Biostatistics module web page.


Image Analysis
Dr. Min Chen, Primary Contact
D601 Richards/6116
Dr. Gustavo Aguirre, Module Co-Director
2050 Ryan/6043
Richard Zorger, Secondary Contact
D603 Richards/6116
Dr. James Gee, Module Co-Director
D607 Richards/6116

Support for developing specialized applications for image analysis related to vision experiments. Some support also available for other specialized applications related to vision research.

Image Analysis module web page.


Imaging and Electrophysiology
Dr. Sergei Nikonov, Primary Contact
117 Anatomy-Chemistry/6058
Dr. Diego Contreras, Module Director
121 Anatomy-Chemistry/6058

This module supports and/or subsidizes access to a number of imaging instruments. These include:

a) Multi-electrode array recording in vitro; see here for detailed description of the set up.

b) A system for whole-cell recording + confocal microscopy + two-photon imaging. For more details click here.

The above equipments are provided by the VRC and supplies are covered by the individual investigator's grant. Technical help using the apparatus is available through Dr. Nikonov. The facility and usage sign-up sheet are located at 124 Anatomy-Chemistry, or contact Marie Fina ( to sign up via email.

c) Core user access to the School of Dental Medicine Center for Cellular Imaging Nikon A1R Confocal Microscope. See here for more detail. Vision investigators qualify for the reduced core user rate. Contact Kathleen Boesze-Battaglia ( for more information.

d) Subsidized access to use of the confocal microscope at the School of Veterinary Medicine Imaging Facility. Contact Gordon Ruthel ( for more information. Currently VRC members pay 50% of the full rate, with the other 50% covered by the VRC. This rate will be adjusted to balance budget and demand.

e) Access to shared use of a Heidelberg Retinal Analyzer (HRA, SLO- OCT) located at the Retinal Disease Studies Facility of the New Bolton Center. Contact Gustavo Aguirre ( for more information.

Imaging and Electrophysiology module web page.


Fred C Letterio, 
Primary Contact Machine Shop David Rittenhouse Labs 215-898-8926
Dr. Geoffrey Aguirre, Module Director 
512 Goddard Building/6018 215-662-3390
Miguel E. Hernández,
Primary Contact Design Electronics Shop 
Electronic Design Shop 
A15 Solomon Labs

Design and fabrication of special purpose, novel instrumentation. VRC will pay 65% of the labor costs at the VRC shops, with 35% labor and 100% of materials costs to be covered by investigators' grants. Without prior approval, the VRC will support up to a maximum of $5000 of subsidized labor expenses for each project. The shops will provide a rough estimate of costs towards the start of each job, but because of the unique nature of each job these should be regarded as ballpark numbers to guide decision making, not as binding contracts.

Instrumentation/Electronics module web page.


Noninvasive Assessment of Visual Function
Dr. Arkady Lyubarsky, Primary Contact
307/308 Stellar-Chance/6069
Dr. Jean Bennett, Module Director
310 Stellar-Chance/6069

This facility provides equipment and support for ERG and other measurements for noninvasive assessment of visual function in mouse, dog, and other species. The facility includes shared equipment as well as technical support for design of appropriate protocols and training of lab personnel in operation of the equipment. Contact Dr. Lyubarsky for detailed information about services available and scheduling.

Noninvasive Assessment of Visual Function module web page.


Mary Leonard, Primary Contact
79D John Morgan Building/6112
Dr. David Brainard, Module Director
417 Goddard Labs
3710 Hamilton Walk

The VRC will subvene 50% of costs for illustration services related to figure preparation for presentations/grants/publications, through Penn Biomedical Art and Design. We will not support poster preparation or printing. Web design will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Please contact David Brainard ( with questions.


Molecular Biology

The VRC has discontinued most of its molecular biology services, as these are now available through broader campus cores at reasonable rates. We do, however, maintain two sequencing machines, an ABI 7500 and an ABI 7900. These are available for use by vision researchers on a self-service basis and with supplies paid for by the investigator. For information on using the ABI 7500, please contact Joshua Dunaief ( ). For information on using the ABI 7900, please contact Dwight Stambolian (

Molecular Biology module web page.