The Louise Pelletier Histology Core: Where images reveal stories on a cellular level

Louise Pelletier Histology Core

“The beauty of this Core is the amount of knowledge acquired due to the diversity and complexity of requests. We do histology on almost everything in biology, from mammals to egg shells to fish, rice and beans. We get to learn from all that variety—what every tissue looks like.”

-- Dr. Ana Giassi, Operations Manager.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words—and this statement rings true in uOttawa’s Histology Core, where microscopic images often reveal stories of birth, regeneration, mutation, illness or death within the cell structure of animals and humans.

“What I love about histology is that microscopic images can tell such detailed stories,” says Dr. Ana Giassi, operations manager of the Louise Pelletier Histology Core Facility at the uOttawa Faculty of Medicine. “The slide or section of tissue sample can hint or show signs of where, for example, the cancer comes from based on specific characteristics and distribution of cells.”  

Histology is the study of cells and tissues, carried out by examining thin, precisely cut slices of tissue samples under a microscope. As one of 13 core facilities at the Faculty of Medicine, the Histology Core facility is housed in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. It offers a full-service histology laboratory to mainly clients in the scientific community in Ottawa.

Currently, this core works with over 90 researchers from uOttawa, other universities and government institutions, as well as the Faculty of Medicine’s academic partners, such as The Ottawa Hospital’s Research Institute and Cancer Centre, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and the University of Ottawa Heart Institute.

Officially designated as a core facility in 2013, the laboratory has provided histology services to external clients in clinical and research settings since 1996 when its first operations manager Louise Pelletier transformed an academic lab that primarily made microscopic slides for professors into a research-intensive service lab.

 “I came to work at this histology lab in 1996 right when Louise started here. She was a big part of its development,” recalls Zaida Ticas, senior teaching lab technologist at the Histology Core, who previously worked at The Ottawa Hospital and has over 25 years of experience as a medical laboratory technologist. “Louise came from a research background with experience working closely with pathologists, and she brought in clients from the hospitals and research institutes across the province.”

Today, the Louise Pelletier Histology Core caters to over 600 service requests and creates approximately 36,000 slides for researchers each year. Not only does the lab assist researchers, it also offers the services of its Pathology Experimental Group which provides expertise on experimental design and clinical diagnosis.

Because of the Histology Core’s unique expertise, it is often chosen as partners for projects from external organizations such as the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories and an on-going collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada since 2007.

“Our technical and professional expertise has enabled us to be the sole site in Canada for the pathology analysis of the national surveillance of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD)—essentially mad cow disease in humans—for the Public Agency of Canada,” says Dr. John P. Veinot, Chair and Director of the Louise Pelletier Histology Core.

“They send us the brains post-mortem and we do the histology and our Neuropathology Laboratory Services does the diagnosis,” added Dr. Giassi.  

With just 10 staff including the Core’s Chair, Dr. John Veinot who is an anatomical and cardiological pathologist, this lab is a robust and vibrant team of experts of PhDs, MDs, and medical laboratory technologists.

“The beauty of this Core is the amount of knowledge acquired due to the diversity and complexity of requests,” says Dr. Giassi. “We do histology on almost everything in biology, from mammals to egg shells to fish, rice and beans. We get to learn from all that variety—what every tissue looks like.”


Histology Core staff members:

John P. Veinot, M.D., F.R.C.P.C.
Chairman and Director 
Louise Pelletier Histology Core Facility 
Ana Catarina Giassi, PhD
Department Operations manager
Louise Pelletier Histology Core Facility 

Zaida Ticas, MLT
Senior Teaching Lab Technologist
Lab supervision / Finances /
Paraffin and Staining Services

Li Dong, MD, PhD
Senior Teaching Lab Technologist
Lab supervision / Paraffin and Frozen Services
Eric Labelle
Senior Teaching Lab Technologist
Neuropathology Laboratory Services
and Special projects supervision /
Paraffin, Frozen and Staining Services
Manon Levesque
Research Administrative Assistant 
Finances and Scanning services

Olga Agah, BLT
Diagnostic Technologist
Neuropathology Laboratory Services
and Special projects /
Paraffin, Frozen, Staining Services

Mufida Alazzabi, MSc.
Laboratory Technician
Grossing and Processing Services
Marjan Khalili, PhD
Laboratory Technician
Paraffin, Frozen and Staining Services
Sharlene Faulkes, PhD
Senior Technician
Immunohistochemistry Services

The Histology Core facility: One of 15 cores at the Faculty of Medicine

With support from affiliated hospital-based research institutes and the University of Ottawa, the Faculty has successfully developed a series of cutting-edge core facilities that bring together state-of-the-art equipment, instrumentation, methodologies and expertise crucial to the success of basic and clinical research activities. These facilities are accessible to all researchers across the University of Ottawa as well as to outside communities on a fee-for-service basis.

To date, 13 cores have been established and a few others are in the planning stages. For each facility, a director and user committees have been appointed to ensure accountability and optimal use for the continued commitment and success of our expanding core facilities.

Animal Behaviour:

Dr. Diane Lagace

Genomics (StemCore):

Dr. Michael Rudnicki

Bioinformatics:

Dr. Theodore Perkins

Proteomics (StemCore):

Dr. Daniel Figeys

Cell Biology and Image Acquisition:

Dr. John Copeland

Human Pluripotent Stem Cells:

Dr. William Stanford

Common Equipment and Technical Expertise:

Dr. Laura Trinkle-Mulcahy

Louise Pelletier Histology Core Facility:

Dr. John Veinot

Containment Level 2/3:

Dr. Marc-André Langlois

Preclinical Imaging:

Dr. Frank J. Rybicki

Flow Cytometry and Virometry:

Dr. Marc-André Langlois

Proteomics:

Dr. Daniel Figeys

Transgenic:

Dr. David Lohnes

Metabolomics:

Dr. Julie St-Pierre

Transmission Electron Microscopy:

Dr. Baptiste Lacoste

 

For more information, please visit the Core Facilities website.

Staff members of the Histology Core

From left to right: Eric Labelle, Olga Agah, Mufida Alazzabi, Sharlene Faulkes, Zaida Ticas and Ana Giassi.

Photo credit : Chonglu Huang

Histology Core

Sharlene Faulkes (left) and Olga Agah.

Photo credit : Chonglu Huang

Histology Core

Zaida Ticas (left) and Mufida Alazzabi.

Photo credit : Chonglu Huang

 

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