University of Iowa medical students are using a new tool to look closely at cells. Instead of crowding around a microscope, med students can use their home computers and what’s being called a “virtual microscope.” Dr. Paul Heidger, a U-of-I professor of anatomy and cell biology,says medical students used to meet in large labs to look through individual microscopes. Problems with that traditional means included equipment that can break, and glass slides with samples on them which can get lost, broken, mixed up or contaminated. Also, the labs are only open during certain hours.Heidger says students can zoom in and move around to different fields on the digital slide in real time. It’s just like using a real microscope but the slides are of the best quality and always in focus.While the system is only being used for U-of-I med students now, it’s hoped in a short time the digital database can be opened up for use by anyone, including doctors and medical students at other universities.
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