University of Pittsburgh Department of Cell Biology
  • Research

    Systems approaches to biologic questions are becoming more important as scientists strive to understand how their favorite molecule or cell fits into the broader picture of organismal development, tissue organization or pathogenesis. Exciting technologies have emerged that enable whole organs and even organisms to be imaged at very high resolutions such that individual cells can be easily located among billions.  This facilitates the tracing of neuronal circuits, reconstruction of neuronal activity across whole brains, characterization of immune microenvironments and following the spread of pathogens among others.

    My interests include the development of platforms to facilitate rapid high-resolution volumetric imaging of whole tissues. The success of these platforms depends upon a wide variety of technologies which include tissue preparation methods, high-speed imaging systems and infrastructure to collect, store and process tera- even peta-scale imaging data. I am fascinated by the way that these technologies influence how biologists ask questions, and I am excited by making our tools accessible to the basic biologist.

    Towards these goals, we have developed the high-speed ribbon scanning confocal microscope (RSCM) into a platform for high-resolution cleared tissue imaging. Together with tissue clearing approaches, we can digitally reconstruct centimeter thick tissue with submicron detail. Consequently, the data acquired from large tissues can reach many terabytes which requires developing visualization and processing environments that handle exceptionally large datasets.  To support the RSCM and other high throughput imaging platforms, my lab has led the Center for Biologic Imaging in the development of a high-performance computing infrastructure which includes petabytes of file storage, specialized cluster / grid computing platforms, and software which makes interacting with these resources simple for people with no experience using otherwise complex computational tools.

  • Publications

    1. Watson AM, Rose AH, Gibson GA, Gardner CL, Sun C, Reed DS, Lam LKM, St Croix CM, Strick PL, Klimstra WB, Watkins SC. Ribbon scanning confocal for high-speed high-resolution volume imaging of brain.. PLoS One. 2017;12(7):e0180486. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0180486. PubMed PMID: 28686653;
    2. Watson AM, Klimstra WB. T Cell-Mediated Immunity towards Yellow Fever Virus and Useful Animal Models.. Viruses. 2017 Apr 11;9(4):. pii: E77. doi: 10.3390/v9040077. PubMed PMID: 28398253;
    3. Troupin A, Shirley D, Londono-Renteria B, Watson AM, McHale C, Hall A, Hartstone-Rose A, Klimstra WB, Gomez G, Colpitts TM. A Role for Human Skin Mast Cells in Dengue Virus Infection and Systemic Spread.. J Immunol. 2016 Dec 1;197(11):4382-4391. . PubMed PMID: 27799312;
    4. Conway MJ, Londono-Renteria B, Troupin A, Watson AM, Klimstra WB, Fikrig E, Colpitts TM. Aedes aegypti D7 Saliva Protein Inhibits Dengue Virus Infection.. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2016 Sep;10(9):e0004941. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0004941. PubMed PMID: 27632170;
    5. Watson AM, Lam LK, Klimstra WB, Ryman KD. The 17D-204 Vaccine Strain-Induced Protection against Virulent Yellow Fever Virus Is Mediated by Humoral Immunity and CD4+ but not CD8+ T Cells.. PLoS Pathog. 2016 Jul;12(7):e1005786. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1005786. PubMed PMID: 27463517;
    6. Tree MO, McKellar DR, Kieft KJ, Watson AM, Ryman KD, Conway MJ. Insect-specific flavivirus infection is restricted by innate immunity in the vertebrate host.. Virology. 2016 Oct;497():81-91. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2016.07.005. PubMed PMID: 27433779;
    7. Sun C, Gardner CL, Watson AM, Ryman KD, Klimstra WB. Stable, high-level expression of reporter proteins from improved alphavirus expression vectors to track replication and dissemination during encephalitic and arthritogenic disease.. J Virol. 2014 Feb;88(4):2035-46. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02990-13. PubMed PMID: 24307590;
    8. Conway MJ, Watson AM, Colpitts TM, Dragovic SM, Li Z, Wang P, Feitosa F, Shepherd DT, Ryman KD, Klimstra WB, Anderson JF, Fikrig E. Mosquito saliva serine protease enhances dissemination of dengue virus into the mammalian host.. J Virol. 2014 Jan;88(1):164-75. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02235-13. PubMed PMID: 24131723;
    9. Watson AM, Mylin LM, Thompson MM, Schell TD. Modification of a tumor antigen determinant to improve peptide/MHC stability is associated with increased immunogenicity and cross-priming a larger fraction of CD8+ T cells.. J Immunol. 2012 Dec 15;189(12):5549-60. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1102221. PubMed PMID: 23175697;
    10. Tatum AM, Watson AM, Schell TD. Direct presentation regulates the magnitude of the CD8+ T cell response to cell-associated antigen through prolonged T cell proliferation.. J Immunol. 2010 Sep 1;185(5):2763-72. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0903920. PubMed PMID: 20660711;


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