Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to page options Skip directly to site content


workers, building, architect

NORA Manufacturing Sector Strategic Goals

9278911 - Microscopic Analysis in Experimental Pathology

Start Date: 10/1/1996
End Date: 9/30/2013

Principal Investigator (PI)
Name: Diane Schwegler-Berry
Phone: 304-285-5875
Organization: NIOSH
Sub-Unit: HELD
Funded By: NIOSH

Primary Goal Addressed

Secondary Goal Addressed


Attributed to Manufacturing


Project Description

Short Summary

This project will provide and maintain facilities needed to visualize the impact of occupationally relevant particulates, vapors, and toxic chemicals on tissues, cells, and cell organelles. This project will use electron microscopes, a laser scanning confocal microscope, photomicroscopes, and image analysis programs to provide an imaging environment for production of high quality micrographs or data. Research will focus on preparation of tissues and samples for microscopic analysis, production of mages at the light and electron microscope level, image analysis, and histopathologic evaluation of tissue samples. This project supplies essential data to resolve Respiratory Disease and Nanotechnology issues in the Manufacturing, Transportation, and Construction Sectors. Results will be useful in achieving the goals of these projects, which should allow them to impact risk assessment efforts.


This project establishes and maintains a shared imaging facility and a preparation lab, providing the tools and expertise for collaborative studies in experimental pathology. The primary function is to allow a diverse array of capabilities in microscopic analysis, available for use by researchers in HELD, DRDS, and West Virginia University. Well-maintained and automated instruments are used for processing, embedding, sectioning and staining tissues for pathological analysis, and for other special procedures at the light microscope level. State-of-the-art equipment is used to prepare samples for transmission and scanning electron microscopy. In the shared microscopy facility researchers have access to a transmission electron microscope, a scanning electron microscope, a field emission scanning electron microscope, a laser scanning confocal microscope systems (with ultraviolet, Argon, and Helium/Neon lasers) and live cell imaging capabilities, and five photomicroscopes with fluorescent polarized, phase and conventional light capabilities. All of the microscopes have image analysis capabilities, allowing use and development of morphometric and quantitative techniques. The electron microscopes have energy dispersive x-ray spectrometers for localization and identification of elements within cells and tissues. The project allows for the development of new morphologic methods of risk assessment independent of life span animal studies. This project has two co-project officers: One being an experienced electron microscopist and the other an experienced light microscopist with specialties in confocal and electron microscopy.

Collaborative research in experimental pathology is an important component of this project. At the electron microscope level, detailed analysis is made of fibers and particles of occupational importance, or thin sections are examined for changes in morphology as a result of exposures. At the light microscope level, special preparative procedures are developed to identify specific cells or tissue components, in tissues from untreated animals and animals exposed to occupationally relevant chemicals, particles, or vapors. Either micrographs or statistical data from image analysis are produced as a result of these collaborations.

Results obtained by scientists using the shared imaging facility include detailed physical descriptions of particulates, localization of cytokines or other markers in progression of respiratory disease, pathology of toxic chemical exposure at the light and electron microscope level, and analysis of structural changes in live cells after exposure to occupationally relevant chemicals or particulates. This project provides a wide range of microscope capabilities to allow scientists to make essential discoveries about occupational disease. This technical support provided to NIOSH researchers will enhance the quality and quantity of scientific outputs, such as presentations and publications by NIOSH scientists. Citation of these outputs by extramural scientists will be evidence of impact on occupation health science. Improvement in scientific quality of outputs of scientific projects will increase the ability of project results to be translated into prevention efforts through scientific communication.


• Provide high quality microscopy facilities for researchers in NIOSH and NIOSH collaborators, including training and technical support for researchers using the shared imaging facility.

• Provide histological support for the veterinary pathologist and other researchers in HELD.

Mission Relevance

Microscopic analysis of cells and tissues is a fundamental component of much of the research conducted in HELD and DRDS. This project provides for establishment and maintenance of a shared microscope facility; preparation of samples for light and electron microscopy; expertise in special microscopic methods; guidance of researchers in obtaining appropriate images; and leadership in image analysis. This project also provides histological support for veterinary pathologists and other researchers in HELD and for the mandated National Coal Workers Autopsy service (NCWAS) Program in DRDS.

Expected users and recipients of products from this work:

We support and develop research by our scientific workforce by providing opportunities for scientists to pursue research using microscopic analysis. Micrographs and data obtained from microscopic analysis will be used in publications (scientific journals and NIOSH alerts) and in national and international presentations.

Expected impact of this work:

Research to Practice (r2p) is an important component of this project. Collaborative research in experimental pathology using microscopic analysis will increase the quality of scientific outputs in HELD. This will result in enhanced understanding of the development and progression of occupational disease. This advance in the mechanistic understanding of disease processes should result in improved risk assessment efforts as well as more sensitive hazard identification.

Results support the Manufacturing Sector (50%), Goal 5: "Reduce the number of respiratory conditions and diseases due to exposure in the manufacturing sector" and the Construction Sector (25%), Goal 6: "Reduce welding fume exposures and future related health risks among construction workers by increasing the availability and use of welding fume controls and practices for welding tasks." Intermediate Goal 6.5 (09PPCONIG6.5) "Evaluate hazard and exposure assessment research gaps with welding fume in construction", and the Transportation Sector (25%), Goal 4: "By 2016, prevent and reduce chemical, biological and physical occupational hazards and exposures resulting in a reduction of occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities in the TWU Sector." Intermediate Goal 4.4 (09PPTWUIG4.4) "Implement substitution programs, engineering controls and administrative programs to reduce and eliminate physical hazards and exposures listed in Table 1 through collaboration with employers, employees, as well as appropriate union, government, academic and industry representatives." Activity/Output Goal 4.4.1 (09PPTWUAOG4.4.1) "Identify prevalence and disease recognition resulting from hazards and exposures identified in Table 1."

The project also supports the Respiratory Disease Cross Sector (100%) Goal 1: "Prevent and reduce work-related airways diseases." Intermediate Goal 1.3 (09PPRDRIG1.3) "Prevent and reduce flavorings-induced obstructive lung disease including bronchiolitis obliterants" Activity/Output Goal 1.3.5 (09PPRDRAOG1.3.5) "Conduct basic research" Goal 2: Prevent and reduce work-related interstitial lung diseases. Intermediate Goal 2.2 (09PPRDRIG2.2) "Prevent and reduce silica-reduced respiratory disease" Activity/Output Goal 2.2.2 (09PPRDRAOG2.2.2) "Reduce hazards associated with abrasive silica and sandblasting". Goal 4: "Prevent and reduce work-related respiratory malignancies." Intermediate Goal 4.1 (09PPRDRIG4.1) "Reduce the incidence of work-related cancer through research" Activity/Output Goal 4.1.4 (09PPRDRAOG4.1.4) "Elucidate mechanisms of silica-induced lung cancer".

Lastly, the project supports the Nanotechnology Cross Sector (25 %), Goal 1: "Determine if nanoparticles and nanomaterials pose risks for work-related injuries and illnesses. Intermediate Goal 2.1 (09PPNANIG2.1) "Key factors and mechanisms".