The Horvitz Lab

You have made your way from worm to man, and much within you is still worm. 

F. Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Prologue, Part 3

Training Environment of the Horvitz Lab

Our laboratory aims to provide an outstanding training environment.  Bob has long believed that the first-rate training of promising young scientists will generate excellent science both in the short and the long terms. Our laboratory studies diverse biological problems, with a focus on identifying and analyzing molecular and cellular pathways for important biological processes.  The diversity of biological problems offers a broad training environment, which is coupled to the in-depth expertise each trainee acquires in his or her area of focus. The laboratory culture is one that aims to develop independent but highly interactive and collegial researchers. Trainees come from a diversity of backgrounds involving different organisms and approaches.  Researchers interested in joining the laboratory and considering projects distinct from those currently being pursued are encouraged to contact Bob with their ideas.  A major goal of the laboratory is to help trainees improve their skills in reporting their work, both in publications and orally. Trainees regularly attend outside national and international scientific conferences and training courses. Trainees are welcome to continue their projects after they leave our laboratory. The success of our approach is reflected in the exceptional accomplishments of the trainees who have been members of the Horvitz laboratory.

Resources in the Horvitz Lab

(A) Confocal microscopy.

We have a Zeiss LSM800 confocal microscope equipped with Airyscan. This microscope, acquired in 2015, allows us to visualize fluorescent signals with high resolution.

(B) Electron microscopy.

We have a JEOL JEM-1200EXII electron microscope and microtome (Ultracut E). Our HPM 010 high pressure freezing machine allows for the preparation of samples for highly-detailed electron microscopy. Research Specialist Rita Droste is dedicated full-time to preparing and imaging electron microscopy samples for the projects of the laboratory.

(C) Robotics.

We have a Tecan Freedom EVO Workstation 100 with a Li-Ha 96-channel pipetter as well as a COPAS BIOSORT instrument. We use the Tecan robotic liquid-handling system for screening for deletion mutants and for other high-throughput operations. The COPAS BIOSORT "worm sorter" can be used to automatically separate worms based on fluorescent signal or other criteria to facilitate genetic screens or other experiments.

(D) Laser microsurgery.

We have a Laser Science Inc. VLS-337 coumarin-dye laser with a fiber-optics link. This laser can be used to ablate single cells in living worms.

(E) Electrophysiology.

Our equipment for electrophysiological studies includes an Axon Instruments Axopatch 200B Integrating Patch Clamp and a Warner Oocyte Clamp OC-725C.

(F) C. elegans strain collection.

We have more than 28,000 strains of C. elegans. We keep most of these strains in freezers at –80℃ and in liquid nitrogen. Laboratory Manager Na An is responsible for the freezing, thawing, and distribution of these strains to members of our laboratory and to colleagues around the world.  

(G) Automated worm tracker.

We have developed a novel automated high-throughput system for tracking C. elegans locomotion. Our system uses a new object-recognition algorithm that identifies both mobile and immobile worms and can extract multiple aspects of worm movement (speed, acceleration, turning angle etc.). This system is integrated with a gas-flow module that can precisely regulate gas composition over time. 

(H) Microfluidics.

We have a microfluidic four-flow system set up to delivery precisely timed chemical stimuli in conjunction with our calcium imaging rig. We fabricate the chips in-house through the MIT Microsystems Technology Laboratories facility. 

(I) smFISH microscope.

We have a Nikon Ti inverted, fully-automated microscope with CCD and scMos cameras, integrated into Metamorph. The scope is used both for low-light imaging, such as single molecule fluorescent in situ measurements, and for DIC-based time-lapse microscopy, such as embryonic lineaging.

(J) Core Facilities.

A wide variety of core facilities are available to the MIT community for sequencing, microscopy, and other needs. A detailed list is available here .