This virtual microscope allows students to instantaneously receive high-resolution images of individual tissue slides at the click of a mouse button. Images can be adjusted continuously to fill all or part of a screen, and different magnifications may be viewed simultaneously, something not possible with traditional light microscopes.
UNC professors of cell and development biology Drs. William Koch and Peter Petrusz developed the virtual microscope for the histology course.
"As a viewing device, the light microscope is difficult to use, mechanically complicated and requires following strict rules in order to get optimal images," Petrusz said. "The fields you see are limited to the capabilities of the given objective lens, and that means having either a low-resolution image over a relatively large field where you don't see detail or you focus on a very small field with high resolution and you don't see the big picture.
"Our virtual version has a continuous magnification, so you can always select the optimal one to see whatever you want to see, while the big picture, the overview, is always available."
The interactivity of the new DVD is designed to appeal to today's computer-savvy medical students, who can save the screen images, print them, annotate them and label anatomical structures and layers using common computer applications.
The medical histology DVD at UNC differs from other such technology in linking syllabus text directly to specific images, making a paper manual unnecessary. In addition, the technology does not require switching between multiple CDs, adding ease in navigation.