Division of Biology and Medicine
Center for Alternatives to Animals in Testing

VR Environment

Virtual reality allows investigators to immerse themselves into a multi-dimensional environment and to explore and probe the 3D architecture of the cells of a microtissue.

Visualization of 3D Microtissues Using Virtual Reality

  • In collaboration with the Center for Computation and Visualization (CCV), investigators in the Center are developing new and exciting ways to visualize and explore 3D images of microtissues in an immersive Virtual Reality (VR) environment.
  • 3D images of microtissues are acquired using the Center’s Opera Phenix high throughput confocal microscope.
  • These z-stacks of fluorescent images (~50 per microtissue) reveal exquisite three-dimensional details of the structure and function of the hundreds of individual cells that constitute a single microtissue.
  • Depending on the method of staining, these fluorescent images reveal the location of a single cell within a microtissue, the shape and morphology of that cell, its connectivity to other cells in the microtissue and its precise position within the 3D environment of a microtissue.
  • If fluorescent dyes of different colors are used on a microtissue with a mixture of different cell types, these 3D images can reveal each of the different cell types, their sizes, shapes, morphologies and connectivity, all in the three-dimensional space of a single microtissue.
  • The VR environment allows the investigator to immerse herself into the 3D environment to explore and probe the 3D architecture of the cells of a microtissue.
  • We have developed two modes for VR immersion into our 3D microtissues.
    • Immersion via a simple webpage. You don’t need to install any additional software, but you do need your own consumer-grade head mounted display. So, if you are wearing your head mounted display, you can immerse yourself in the VR environment of one of our 3D microtissues. Feel free to probe and manipulate the 3D microtissue with your hand controls. The source code for showcasing a 3D microtissue via a simple page is available on github.
    • Immersion with enhanced performance. Through the years, the CCV has pioneered the development of multiple, high-performance VR environments and facilities for immersion and manipulation of large and complex 3D and 4D data sets. These resources and facilities are available to students and researchers and include the Visualization Lab, the Cave  and the Yurt. Using these resources, the viewer can explore 3D microtissues in more depth with enhanced functionality and better performance than web-based access. These environments support the display of multiple microtissues at once to allow comparative assessments and can display animated volumes of data that were acquired as a time series. Source code for this project is also available on github.