Creating technologies to view chemical processes in the brain and body in real time

Check out our Facility Voucher Program (FVP)

Introducing our new program to encourage multi-disciplinary research by supporting labs that want to explore new imaging modalities. Up to $1,000 per award!

CILS Core Featured Image

Shipworm Tissue in the Digestive Glands

Distribution of GH6 domain of a cellulase produced by intracellular bacterial symbiont

Instrument: Zeiss LSM 880

Credit: Marvin Altamia/Distel Lab

We develop nanosensors and use multiple imaging modalities to highlight dynamic processes in the body in real time.

Professor uses gene regulation to improve drug delivery and treatment of rare genetic diseases

CILS Member Ke Zhang is researching a new drug delivery method using oligonucleotides to treat Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), with potential applications in other genetic diseases, offering hope for more efficient treatments.

Interdisciplinary Collaboration

Our researchers collaborate across five following core disciplines to develop breakthrough imaging tools:

  • Probe Development
  • Probe Delivery
  • Imaging Technologies
  • Animal Models
  • Signal Processing


The development of novel imaging tools for real-time detection of molecular neural events, such as neurotransmitter release, is fundamental for studying the basis of brain function and disease, which leads to the development of better diagnostics and therapeutics.


Chemical analysis could be used to study processes like neurotransmitter release, but the field currently has a scale problem. New technologies are needed that can balance the specificity of cellular imaging with the functional, structural, or spatial capabilities of whole-body imaging.

CILS Members

Manuscripts enabled by CILS core facilities


Our goal is to create a new suite of modular nanoscale tools, probes that image dynamic biological processes beyond what is currently feasible. By forming multidisciplinary teams, we select and focus on a difficult problem that needs a solution – the interface between instrumentation and the biological environment is key to our success. Starting from a research question, we work through the probe’s lifecycle, from novel platform development, continuing through to its biological application.


vaccines by Megan Chown from the Noun Project

Enabling a doctor to measure specific biomolecules in a patient over disease progression will lead to better-informed diagnostics and personalized care.

Microscope Analysis by Ahmad Roaayala from

Animal models better reflect a specific neurological disease state, and the same tools used to study these models can be used to further human research.

personalized experience by Nithinan Tatah from the Noun Project

Diseases can be studied in a highly personalized fashion, for the design and development of precision interventions.


We have demonstrated new nanoscale probes to detect in vivo analytes such as glucose (with applications for diabetes), electrolytes (relevant for dehydration for endurance sports and military applications), therapeutic drug monitoring, neurotransmitters (useful for neurodegenerative disease) and cytokines (to detect immune response in COVID-19).

Tissue Clearing Webinar

Come join us on February 10th, 2023 at 1-2 pm (EST)📅 to learn more about how to improve your microscopy images of thick samples via Tissue Clearing 🔬

Our imaging scientist Eun will explain why tissue clearing is important to boost microscopy signal from your thick samples, and will discuss different methods and applications. 

Register here: ➡ ⬅

CILS Tissue Clearing Webinar

Niedre and Bellini Receive $2.7M Grant from the National Cancer Institute

Mark Niedre

CILS member and bioengineering professor Mark Niedre was awarded a $2.7M grant for 5 years along with co-PI Chiara Bellini. The grant project is titled "Continuous, Non-Invasive Optical Monitoring of Circulating Tumor Cell-Mediated Metastasis in Awake Mice".

Bryan Spring Named A Scialog: Advancing Bioimaging Fellow

Bryan Spring

For early-career researchers chosen to address challenges involved in enhancing high-resolution imaging of tissue.

Our facility

Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex

ISEC 080, 805 Columbus Ave, Boston, MA, 02115