Headshot of Dr. Christian Combs

Christian Combs, Ph.D.

Core Director


Christian Combs received his B.S. in Zoology from the University of Florida in 1989, his M.S. in Zoology from Auburn University in 1994, and his Ph.D. in Biological Science from the Florida State University in 1996. He was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the NIH in the NHLBI Lab of Cardiac Energetics (LCE) from 1996-1999 and briefly a Staff Fellow in the LCE in 2000. He has been the Director of the NHLBI Light Microscopy Core since its start in 2000.  His memberships have included the American Physiological Society and the Biophysical Society.


Equipment and Research
- Christian Combs, Ph.D.


The NHLBI Light Microscopy Core (LMC) consists of three people (Dr. Christian A. Combs (Director), Dr. Daniela A. Malide, and Dr. Xufeng Wu (Deputy Director)) and nineteen microscopes located in buildings 10 and 50 on the main NIH campus in Bethesda, MD. The mission of the LMC is to provide state-of-the-art equipment, training, and image processing capabilities to assist NHLBI-DIR researchers in experiments involving light microscopy. To date we have helped researchers publish more than 350 papers. Research conducted by investigators using the LMC has been on many disease states, basic cell biology, and on development and implementation of new imaging methods. Researchers that work in this facility can expect support from core personnel to whatever level suits their research requirements. This can include advanced microscopy techniques like super-resolution and intra-vital two-photon microscopy to more ordinary confocal and wide-field imaging applications. In addition to the microscopes, we provide a full suite of image processing programs on several image processing workstations. In summary this facility operates with state-of-the-art equipment and a dedicated team of imaging professionals to further the research mission of the NHLBI-DIR.

Image Analysis Software

  • Metamorph
  • Hyugens
  • Imaris
  • FIJI
  • Custom Programming


Bldg. 10

  • Leica SP8 STED 3X/Confocal Microscope with Falcon FLIM
  • Leica SP8 Dive Multiphoton Microscope (upright) with Falcon FLIM
  • Visitech Instant Structured Illumination Microscope (iSIM)
  • Zeiss 880 Confocal Microscope (inverted)
  • Zeiss 780 Confocal Microscope (inverted)
  • Nikon Wide-Field Microscope (upright)
  • Leica MZFLIII (dissecting) Microscope
  • Zeiss Apotome Microscope

Bldg. 50

  • Zeiss Elyra 7 with Lattice SIM
  • GE OMX 3D SIM Super-resolution Microscope with Ring-TIRF/OMX SR
  • Nikon N-STORM Super-resolution Microscope
  • Two Zeiss LSM 880-AiryScan microscopes
  • Zeiss LSM 780 Confocal Microscope
  • Nikon A1R Confocal Microscope
  • Zeiss Stereomicroscope (SteREO Discovery V12)
  • Zeiss up-right Axioplan Microscope
  • Olympus IX 81 TIRF microscope
  • Olympus XI81 with CSU-X1 spinning disk confocal and customer-made Laser Trap
  • Zeiss Lattice Light Sheet Microscope

Selected Publications

A fluorescence-based imaging method to measure in vitro and in vivo mitophagy using mt-Keima.

Authors: Sun, N., Malide, D., Liu, J., Rovira, I.I., Combs, C.A., Finkel, T.
Nat. Protocols 2017 Aug 01;12(8):1576-1587

Direct visualization of the arterial wall water permeability barrier using CARS microscopy.

Authors: Lucotte, B.M., Powell, C., Knutson, J.R., Combs C.A., Malide, Yu, Z, D., Knepper, M., Patel, K.D., Pielach, A., Johnson, E., Borysova, L. , Dora, K.A., Balaban, R.S.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 May 02;114(18):4805-4810

Power Grid Protection of the Muscle Mitochondrial Reticulum.

Authors: Glancy, B., Hartnell, L.M., Combs, C.A., Fenmou A., Sun, J., Murphy, E., Subramaniam, S., Balaban, R.S.
Cell Rep. 2017 Apr 18;19(3):487-496

Fluorescence Microscopy: A Concise Guide to Current Imaging Methods.

Authors: Combs, C.A. and Shroff, H.
Curr Protoc Neurosci. 2017 Apr 10;79:2.1.1–2.1.25