Iowa Institute for Oral Health Research

Histology/ultrastructure core laboratories

These laboratory areas contain equipment for preparing specimens for light and electron microscopy. These include a wax embedding station, two AO microtomes for wax sectioning, an AO ultramicrotome,  and a vacuum sputter coater. Photomicroscopes for light microscopy include fluorescence, dark field, light field, polarizing and phase contrast.

Image analysis core equipment

Automated image analysis is performed using the Image Pro Plus imaging software, which is capable of analyzing images of nearly every format. Suitable image sources include light microscope, scanning electron microscope, flatbed scanner, or digital camera. This software also provides statistical analysis and facilitates direct downloading of data to spreadsheet programs or other statistical software. Polarized light images of mineralized tissue can be digitized and analyzed directly using an Olympus BX-50 polarized light microscope and Olympus DP-72 camera coupled to a dedicated PC with high resolution monitor. Digitized images and any measurements derived from these images can be archived or  transferred to any networked PC for further analysis or statistical evaluation. Also available are two FBTIV-816 transilluminators and two FB-PDC-34 PhotoDocumentation camera systems.

Tissue culture core lab

Facilities permitting preparation and maintenance of primary isolates, organ cultures, and long-term cultures are available. Monoclonal antibodies can be produced. Equipment includes incubators and laminar flow safety hoods for tissue preparation and cell, tissue, or organ culture.


There are two sterilization and glass washing rooms and a storeroom for glassware, supplies and chemicals. Ultrapure water is available in each laboratory. and a storeroom for glassware, supplies and chemicals. A large walk-in cold room is available to store materials, reagents and includes bench space. Sample storage facilities include liquid nitrogen storage containers, -80 degree C freezers, -20 degree C freezers and several 4 degree refrigerators.

Oral soft tissue

Facilities include equipment for lipid analysis by thin layer chromatography, high pressure chromatography and gas chromatograph, N-evap for drying samples, rotary evaporator, fume hood for prep work and an acid resistant hood for sulfuric acid spraying. Two gyratory shakers, electrophoresis equipment (vertical and horizontal units), an ultraviolet transilluminate camera with hood, and a camera for photodocumentation of nucleic acids are also available. There is a GTI/Spectrovision FD-500 fluorimeter and a Labconco Centrivap concentrator.

Dental biomaterials

Equipment for biomaterials research include a Zwick Advanced Materials Testing System, which is computer-driven for automated testing of tensile compression and flexing, as well as fatigue and resilience. Other equipment includes an induction casting machine, potentiostat, gold film mercury detector and a thermocycler. Buehler grinder polishers are available as well as an Economent. Isomet and high speed saws are used to prepare and examine biomaterials. A Harrick plasma cleaner is used to prepare surfaces for comparisons of interactions with biological materials.


A Silverstone-Taylor hard tissue microtome and Olympus polarized light microscopes are available for mineralized tissue preparation and evaluation. Research requiring automated titration, pH stat or chemostat conditions may be performed using the Metrohm pH stat system and associated microprocessor. Ion-specific electrodes are also available to measure fluoride concentration in water, foods or other materials. Elemental analysis is available using a Fisher atomic absorption spectrophotometer. Also available is a New Brunswick Bioflo Fermenter, two Coy Anaerobic Chambers, a Microbiology International Anaerobic Chamber, a spiral plater, and a real-time PCR.

Molecular biology and biochemistry

Equipment available for biochemical and molecular analysis includes UV and visible light spectrophotometers, a Coulter counter, gas chromatographs, an ultracentrifuge, and gamma and scintillation counters. Gel electrophoresesis equipment is available for molecular biology, including probe preparation and identification equipment.

X-ray microtomography

A SkyScan 1272 MicroCT is available to provide 3D digital images of samples less than 75 mm in width and 100 mm in height. MicroCT is a non-destructive technique with the capability to scan at 0.35 microns voxel. An automatic sample changer is available to scan up to 16 samples sequentially. Reconstruction and analysis software is available to process the scans and provide 2D and 3D measurements.

Information resources

The collegiate librarian provides online computer literature searches and database search instructions for faculty, staff and students, in groups or individually. Health-related databases and other electronic resources are provided electronically by the Hardin Library for the Health Sciences. Information on funding opportunities from federal and other sources, and assistance with using University of Iowa Libraries, are also provided by the collegiate librarian.

Statistical consulting and grant preparation

A joint-appointed statistician works with faculty who are gathering pilot data and planning projects for submission of externally funded grant applications. Assistance with proposal writing and budge preparation is also available in the Iowa Institute of Oral Health.