Mission Statement:

• The MDIBL LMF strives to provide the lowest barrier of entry to access state of the art microscopy equipment and data analysis techniques.

• The MDIBL LMF provides all training and assistance required for the whole range of light microscopy, from basic observations with transmitted light to confocal microscopy imaging.

• The MDIBL LMF keeps moving with the latest developments in microscopy and tries to implement these to enhance accessibility for life scientists.

• The MDIBL LMF provides access to general microscopy education and a platform for knowledge exchanges and networking.

1. Access Policy

All members of the MDIBL scientific community are eligible to use MDIBL LMF equipment. However, before access to the MDIBL LMF will be granted to lab members, new users must fill out the registration form and their PI must sign it, then she/he must meet with a LMF member to establish project requirements, expectations, and training needs in advance of access.

The MDIBL LMF encourages proof of principle or ‘pilot’ type experiments and data studies that require the use of the highly specialized instruments residing in the MDIBL LMF. These have a 75% discount to start but if they are successful, users should anticipate a training session and a formal user registration application. 

LMF MDIBL business hours are approximately 8 am to 5 pm Monday to Friday, but there is no guarantee MDIBL LMF personnel will be in the office at any moment. After-hours and weekend access for independent users is allowed though subject to instrument availability and established user proficiency. New users and those that require ongoing assistance of LMF members should schedule their work during LMF MDIBL business hours.

Most instruments in the MDIBL LMF come from specific sources such as a NIH grant and are share equally between users. Access to these instruments may therefore be rationed accordingly.

2. Billing Policy

Billing details can be found on: https://lmf.mdibl.org/.

The MDIBL LMF charges only 25% of the regular price for training sessions (2 X 2h training session). The MDIBL LMF does not charge anything additional for a longer training session as each training session should be customized in its length and depth for each user as well as the validation session (last part of the training).

The MDIBL LMF does not charge anything additional for help sessions as all forms of questions should be encouraged.

However, 3 categories of fees exist depending on the user status: internal, collaborator or external.  

3. Training Policy

All users must be fully trained by a MDIBL LMF member prior to using any MDIBL LMF systems. Training is specific to each instrument and must be conducted prior to first use. Users can not train other users on any of the LMF equipment. If a user has prior experience with a certain piece of equipment, training may be truncated, but access can only be granted by a LMF member. Only after completion of instrument training will calendar access be granted.

Each user can fill out the “proposal” for every new project. This form can be used to discuss the future experiment with the LMF staff and ensure that the experiment can be realized in the optimum condition. The document and the discussion are not mandatory but heavily encouraged.

4. Laser safety instructions

When using microscopes equipped with lasers, special care must be taken to avoid laser radiation getting into your eyes or onto your skin. Especially, laser radiation can irreversibly harm your eyes. This relates to all laser scanning microscopes (LSMs).

All commercially bought microscope systems are typically equipped with electronic shutters that block lasers if the user is at risk of getting exposed to laser radiation (for example if the transmitted light arm is pushed back). Still, the microscopes are categorized as class 3 laser devices (355 nm –639 nm lasers) or class 4 (680 to 1080 nm), and by that they are classified as potentially harmful. If not operated properly, the risk of getting exposed to laser light (visible, and invisible; direct, and diffuse reflections) is still there (e.g. if reflecting samples are tilted during image acquisition, or if objective lenses are removed and laser light can come out of the microscope stand collimated). Therefore, all users need to be very careful when using microscopes equipped with lasers, and when working in Light Microscope Facility-rooms (LMF-rooms) containing microscopes with lasers:

• Users are not allowed to remove objective lenses or other parts from the microscope system.

• The microscopes of the MDIBL LMF are all intended to be used with biological samples. Any other types of samples (i.e. reflective samples in material sciences) are not allowed to be used without prior consultation of the LMF staff.

• Don’t touch, tilt or exchange the sample during image acquisition.

• Don’t put your hand into the laser beam. Image acquisition needs to be stopped before the sample can be touched, or removed, or exchanged to another sample.

• Don’t bring any reflective things into the laser beam (tools, mirrors, wristwatch, jewelry).

• Avoid looking into the microscope from a direction towards the objective lens, where the laser could emerge from.

• Use minimal suitable laser power for your measurements.

• Alcohol and drugs can retard the blink reflex; don‘t work with laser devices in this case.

• Users are not allowed to bring colleagues /students etc. to the LMF rooms unless they signed these rules.

• For all confocal microscopes, users are invited to don’t look through eyepieces during any image acquisition involving lasers.

Even if laser light is confined to the microscope system, some light can emerge towards the user. Some remaining scattered, non-collimated laser light can be visible through the ocular and can therefore harm your eyes.

5. Mercury lamps safety instruction for (HBO, HXP, X-Cite, …)

On most of the microscope systems, there are mercury lamps installed for wide-field epi-fluorescence observation and detection (“fluorescence lamps”, called HBO, HXP, X-cite or similar). For all these lamp types, there is the danger of a lamp breakage, which would result in mercury being released into the air. A lamp burst can occur in very rare cases. This potential risk therefore exists; hence the following safety instruction is given:

In the case of a mercury lamp burst, all personnel should leave the immediate area (the room) at once, so that no mercury vapor is inhaled. The burst of the lamp can be a noticeable loud explosion, however, it can also happen unnoticed. Indeed, it may happen in between two imaging session, when the system was left on for the next user, or when a user has left the room during a long experiment.

Therefore, whenever a user enters an LMF room with a running fluorescence lamp (there is typically more than one system per room), the user has to verify that the lamps are working correctly. This is typically indicated by a green LED at the lamp house.

If any malfunction of a lamp is suspected, the user must inform the LMF staff and enforce all people to leave the room immediately.

If this happens off-time (in the evenings or on the weekend), clearly mark the door from the outside “Mercury lamp burst – do not enter this room!”, and put a tape around the door and door frame, so that nobody can enter the room, and report the issue to fbonnet@mdibl.org / cmsmith@mdibl.org / fphalan@mdibl.org

LMF staff will then care for the room (The room will be ventilated thoroughly (at least 20 to 30 minutes, 2-3 air exchanges) and after the lamp housing has cooled, mercury residue will be picked up with a special adsorbent). LMF-staff will announce when the room can be used again in such a case.

6. Biological safety (BSL1, infectious material, chemicals …)

All LMF rooms in MDIBL are aclassified as BSL1.

Eating and drinking is not permitted in any LMF room. The wearing of lab coats is required; wearing them is your responsibility.

All further instructions need to be obeyed as stated in the Genetic Engineering Laboratory Operating Procedures and Hygiene Plan.

If gloves are worn by the user when handling the samples, these gloves need to be taken off after the sample has been put onto the microscope stage. No gloves can be worn when touching any controls of LMF equipment (for example microscope buttons) or computers. Parts of devices, which cannot be avoided to be touched with gloves (microscope transmitted light arm, stage insert clamps, incubator doors, etc.), need to be carefully decontaminated by the user, in case they were contaminated with BSL1 material. This needs to be done right after contamination and at the end of the imaging session, according to the hygiene plan (with 80% ethanol for BSL1-contamination.

BSL1-samples can be disposed of in the Red Biohazard cans or brought back to be disposed in the user’s home lab.

7. Bookings, modifications, and cancellations

Users can book LMF equipment 24 hours 7 days a week. Support by the LMF staff team is available on weekdays during normal working hours. If users are working in the facility during “after office” hours, users must ensure that they are not alone in case of an emergency and are able to call for help.

Users can make new bookings or extend their booking any time (unless start time has not elapsed). The bookings can at maximum be 14 days (2 weeks) in the future. Users can delete, shorten their booking without getting charged for it.

In case of an overbooked system, or booked and non used booking time which result in a waste of time for other users:  

The rule of the 1.5H will be applied. This rule means that users can delete, shorten their booking up to 1.5 hours before the respective slot starts, without getting charged for it

Less than 1.5 hours before a slot starts, bookings are binding, and users can NOT edit it. The user will be charged (50% of the rate) for the slot and stays responsible for the system especially if it is the last slot of the day.

You don’t need to send an email to all users. Emails are automatically sent to users that subscribe to receive notifications for “deleted or changed booking”.

Responsibility if nobody replies: It is still the responsibility of the user who booked the slot originally to switch off the system if no one else takes it. If you are not around to turn off the system, ask an LMF trained colleague or the LMF staff.

Responsibility if somebody replies: By officially taking the slot, the new user takes over the responsibility to switch off the system (if he is the last person of the day) but will not be charged.

If an instrument is found to be on overnight because the last user forgot to shut it down – the booking will be extended as if the system was used overnight and will be charged to the user.

Please keep in mind, that administrators can also edit and cancel your booking. You will not always be notified when that happens. Therefore, it is recommended to check your bookings regularly.

8. User Responsibility Policy

Users must follow all MDIBL LMF and institutional rules and safety regulations. Users are responsible for the correct operation and care of the instruments they are using as indicated within user’s guides, during training sessions, or verbally communicated by LMF MDIBL members.

Users are responsible for shutdown (i.e. following any required checklist) of instruments and the clean-up (i.e. slides, specimens, peripheral equipment, and other tools must be removed, cleaned, or thrown away) of utilized LMF spaces.

Users are responsible for reporting any missing items or relaying empty supplies to MDIBL LMF members.

Users are responsible for reporting breakages, system failures, etc. to MDIBL LMF members in a timely fashion.

Users will be responsible for repair or service costs arising from negligent or inappropriate use.

PIs assume responsibility for their staff, fellows, and students using the center.

9. Special booking restrictions at LSMs

There are no restrictions for the systems belonging to the LMF so far. In case of an overbooked system, special rules will be released to allow everyone to use a system in a convenient way.

10. Data storage

Sign-on procedure

You will be assigned a MDIBL network username that will be used to sign on to LMF computers.  Your username will be provided at the time of your initial training. 

It is the responsibility of each user to sign out from the computer after each session.

Security practices

Never store any passwords on LMF computers.  Do not attempt to install or update any software.  Do not access external web sites except as needed to transfer data, etc.  Users can bring their own laptops if they want to work at their own computers while acquiring images. Wi-Fi connectivity is available in the facilities.

Data storage and deletion procedure

During data acquisition, data needs to be saved on the local hard disk in the DATA folder on the D drive. Any other location (especially directly storing on a remote path like a file server or a USB-device) may cause problems.

To avoid shortage of local disk space on the systems, staff may delete data in any user folder that is older than 120 days. Users must copy their data to a safe storage medium. Users are free to choose this medium, e.g.  the user’s file server space, a fileserver of the user’s institute (for external users) or a personal USB device. The LMF advises users to make the copy as soon as possible after the data acquisition. 

For convenience the imaging file server share is connected automatically as the I: drive when you sign on to the computer.  The imaging share is backed up to tape on a nightly basis by IT.  Instructions for access to the imaging share are available on myMDIBL

11. Acknowledgement of LMF usage

Acknowledgement of the facility in publications: scientific papers, posters, Bachelor-, Master- or doctoral theses and contributions to conferences, is the only means to prove the impact of the facility and the effective use of the equipment and is therefore needed for successful evaluation processes of the facility and for grant applications.

All publications or any data acquired or processed using LMF MDIBL equipment and/or services must be acknowledged in the appropriate way in every publication as follows:

“Images were acquired using equipment of the Light Microscopy Facility at the MDIBL, which is supported by the Maine INBRE grant (GM103423) from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences at the National Institutes of Health.”

Assistance above the technical or routine level, with any facility staff providing scientific input and expertise in experimental set-up, acquisition, or analysis, should be recognized through co-authorship on resulting publications. Please discuss acknowledgments with facility staff prior to manuscript submission.

If required, facility staff may be asked to review the sections describing the microscopy methods in drafts of publications. After publication, facility users are requested to provide a PDF-file of the publication for the facility’s records.

Acknowledgment is possible in the material & methods part as well as in the acknowledgement. Original and/or enabling contributions of MDIBL LMF members should be acknowledged with co-authorship where appropriate.

————

I hereby confirm that I have read and understood the points above.