FAU Brain Institute named a Nikon Center of Excellence

Forida Atlantic University’s Brain Institute in Jupiter has a new $750,000 high-speed, laser-based microscope that provides 3D views of nervous systems and whole organisms.

Acquiring the Nikon instrument was an initial step to becoming a Nikon Center of Excellence, a partnership with Japan-based Nikon that involves an exchange of knowledge with selected research centers around the world that invest in Nikon advanced imaging instruments.


The Brain Institute was designated one of seven Nikon Centers of Excellence in the United States and 17 worldwide during a ceremony on Thursday at FAU’s Jupiter campus.

The designation “means a lot for the university,” said Randy Blakely, who leads the Brain Institute. He said the partnership deepens collaboration between the university and company, giving the institute access to the latest in imaging instruments, as well as training for staff.

“The centers of excellence are a mechanism to establish a longtime collaboration between FAU and this high-tech company,” said Blakely, who earlier this year moved his lab and research team of 20 to FAU from Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

He said Nikon provides substantial cost reductions for equipment. In return, the company gets access to researchers. “It’s a win-win situation,” Blakely said.

Blakely calls the new microscope the “Cadillac” of imaging instruments. “It’s more sensitive, faster, and is integrated with the latest software,” he said.

The Brain Institute is recruiting additional scientists to pursue advanced neuroscience studies of diseases including autism, drug addiction and depression. “The lab focuses on the gene discovery — genes that control brain function, and on genetic variations,” he said.

On Thursday, Blakely and FAU President John Kelly signed a memorandum of understanding with Toshiaki Nagano, president and CEO of Nikon Instruments in New York, to become a Nikon Center of Excellence.

Kelly said FAU is rapidly developing as a center of “world class” research, with the help of Nikon and other partnerships. The university also has partnerships with Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience and Scripps Florida.

“It is exciting to anticipate the new frontiers our faculty and students will cross with access to this state-of-the-art technology,” he said. or 561-243-6650

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