Request Access

Online Signup
trained users

Help Center


I used to have access, but now I don’t. What do I do?2019-09-30T16:26:09-04:00
I’m from an HMS affiliated institution. Can I use your microscopes?2019-10-24T09:50:22-04:00

The NIC does not currently have the capacity to offer access to HMS affiliates or FAS. The NIC faculty steering committee therefore decided to restrict access to the ~190 PIs with a primary appointment in one of the HMS preclinical departments. Note that we cannot offer access to affiliates with a primary appointment in an HMS affiliate, even if the PI has a secondary appointment in an HMS preclinical department. If you are not sure if your PI has a primary appointment in a HMS preclinical department, please email the NIC Director Jennifer Waters.

NIC workshops are free and open to all affiliates, and we can offer affiliates free consultations on experimental design and provide advice on other core facilities that may be able to offer you access.

How can I view images acquired in the NIC on my personal computer?2018-12-21T12:43:24-05:00

Most of the images acquired in the NIC will have an image format that is not readable by the basic image viewers built in to Windows and Mac computers (e.g. Windows Media Viewer or Preview).  Here are a couple free solutions:


Fiji is a freely available distribution of ImageJ that comes comes pre bundled with a number of useful plugins, including Bio-Formats which can read that vast majority of proprietary image formats used in microscopy, such as the .nd2 files acquired when using Nikon Elements.  Fiji is also capable of handling 12 and 16-bit TIF files such as those acquired in Metamorph.

Download Fiji

NIS Elements Viewer

NIS-Elements Viewer is a free standalone program to view image files and datasets with the Nikon .nd2 file format. It offers the same view and image selection modes as the NIS-Elements core packages and has the same look and feel as the NIS-Elements core packages, but lacks the advanced analysis features of Nikon Elements. Saving ND datasets to TIFF files is also possible with the NIS-Elements Viewer.

Download NIS Elements

What other core facilities are available?2016-02-02T21:34:13-05:00

To find other core facilities at Harvard and it’s affiliated institutions, visit the Harvard Catalyst website.

Do I need EH&S laser training to work in the NIC@HMS?2019-08-12T11:01:29-04:00

Yes! To maintain access to the NIC, you must be up-to-date on all of your required EH&S training. In addition, if you are using a laser for illumination (including, for instance, any of the confocal or TIRF microscopes).  Click here for details.

I’m looking to purchase light microscopy imaging equipment. Can I get advice from the NIC@HMS?2019-08-12T11:02:37-04:00


We are happy to talk to you about your imaging needs and help you to decide what equipment would be best for you. Please fill out our online request for a consultation to get started. Our corporate partners can also demonstrate the equipment in the NIC@HMS using your own specimens.

I have questions about imaging. Can I get help at the NIC@HMS?2019-08-12T11:03:26-04:00


We are available for free consultations to all members of the Longwood Medical community and the Cambridge campus. Please fill out our online request for a consultation to get started.

I need help analyzing my images2018-12-21T12:43:24-05:00

We are tremendously fortunate to have a dedicated Image and Data Analysis core (IDAC).  Please contact the experts at IDAC to setup a free consultation to get help with image analysis.

How much does it cost to use the equipment in the NIC@HMS?2019-08-12T11:04:25-04:00

One-time Training Fee:

All NIC@HMS users are charged a training fee for each microscope they are trained to use. The training fee is $200 for most applications, or $500 for advanced applications. The training fee is based on the estimated number of NIC staff hours needed to complete the training and will be determined during the initial consultation with the NIC Director.  This training fee is in addition to any hourly usage rates that might apply (see below).  For image analysis help, please contact the experts at in the Image & Data Analysis Core.

Hourly Usage Fees: 

  • The Departments of Cell Biology, Systems Biology and BCMP subsidize use of the equipment in the NIC@HMS for members of their departments. Therefore, there are no hourly usage rates for members of these three departments.
  • Members of the other Basic Sciences Departments on the Harvard Medical School Quad are charged hourly fees for scheduled use of image acquisition equipment in the NIC@HMS. The hourly fee is determined by microscope, and is $50 for widefield or transmitted light microscopes, $80 for confocals and $65 for TIRF or STORM. Note that Principles Investigators with appointments in a Basic Science Department and with one of the HMS affiliated institutions must have a grant administered through HMS to qualify for the Basic Science Department rates.
  • Principle investigators from an HMS affiliated institution or FAS have access only to those microscopes with sufficient time available, and pay a $200 hourly fee.
  • Our microscopes are very heavily used, and we therefore cannot accommodate any users from outside Harvard.
How do I get trained to use the equipment? (I qualify for access)2019-08-12T11:07:38-04:00

All users must be trained by NIC@HMS staff proir to independent use of any microscope.
Training generally goes as follows:

  • Submit a request for training. We will respond (usually within 24 hours) with instructions on how to set up a consultation appointment for a consultation with the core Director (Jennifer Waters) or an Associate Director (Anna Jost & Talley Lambert).
  • During the consulation, you will discuss your project and imaging needs so we can help you determine which equipment will work best for you. You will discuss the advantages and limitations to the different imaging techniques available, and how best to prepare and mount your specimens for imaging. You may schedule your microscope training during the consultation.
  • Microscope training is done one-on-one (you may be trained with another member of your lab working on the same project, if you wish). You must bring your own specimens to the training session.
  • After your training session, you will be asked to schedule your first independent use of the equipment during a time when NIC@HMS staff will be in the imaging center, in case you have any problems or questions.
  • Once you are comfortable using the equipment on your own, your Harvard ID will be activated to give you access to the NIC@HMS and you will be shown how to sign-up to use the equipment online.

Click here to learn more and to request training.

Can I use the equipment in the NIC@HMS for my research?2016-02-02T21:53:50-05:00

Our Access page contains a detailed description of who can use our scopes and our billing rates.