STTARR (Spatio-Temporal Targeting and Amplification of Radiation Response Program)

University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario
What the facility does

STTARR provides imaging services and technologies for cellular and preclinical research studies.

Areas of expertise

STTARR is the only centre in the world providing state-of-the-art imaging technology for cellular studies at the level of DNA and proteins, multi-modality imaging of pre-clinical models, and a correlative pathology lab in an integrated environment located in Toronto’s medical discovery district. STTARR’s expertise is in radiation research, but is involved in more than 300 multidisciplinary imaging projects.

Research services
  • Multi-modality imaging,
  • software and computing tools for analysis,
  • online data storage
Sectors of application
  • Agriculture, animal science and food
  • Arts and cultural industries
  • Education
  • Healthcare and social services
  • Life sciences, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment
  • Manufacturing and processing
  • Mining, minerals and metals

Specialized lab



Cellular Core I

Spinning disk confocal microscopeSpinning disk confocal microscope

qRT-PCR  equipment

DNA, RNA and protein analysis

Meso Scale Discovery Sector Imager 2400 for multiplex ELISA

Level 2 tissue culture facility

Radioisotope lab for in-vitro and in vivo labelling

The Cellular Core I supports DNA repair assays and genomic and proteomic testing for the prediction of radiation response and toxicity. It also has infrastructure to support both basic and clinical studies relating to genetic instability and cancer risk.

Preclinical Core II

Precision X-Ray (XRAD 225Cx) Image-guided radiation treatment unit (225 kVp IGRT Unit)

GE Locus Ultra microCT

Siemens Inveon microCT

Bruker 7T Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) (30 cm with MR spectroscopy)

Aspect Imaging/Bruker 1T MRI (ICON)

Siemens Focus 220 micro-Positron Emission Tomography (PET)

Bioscan micro-Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography with CT (micro-SPECT/CT)

CRi Maestro multispectral fluorescence imaging system

VisEn Fluorescence Molecular Tomography (FMT) Imaging system

Leica FCM1000 fluorescent confocal microscope

Xenogen IVIS bioluminescent imaging system

Visualsonics Vevo 2100 ultrasound  and photoacoustic system

The Preclinical Core II focuses on the investigation and refinement of novel treatment strategies using its non-invasive imaging resources. It offers tools that help identify and validate response markers to chemical and biological treatments and radiation therapy at the pre-clinical level.

Clinical Core III

Multi-slice CT simulator


1.5T MR simulator

High resolution 3D ultrasound imaging system

Optical and bioluminescence imaging system

Precision image-guided flat-panel cone-beam CT treatment units

Stereotactic radiation treatment units

Pulsed-dose-rate and high-dose-rate brachytherapy facilities

The Clinical Core III forms a crucial link with the Cellular and Preclinical Cores to facilitate the implementation of innovative imaging and therapeutic strategies in patients. The strong partnership among these Cores provides an unprecedented environment that encourages the rapid implementation and testing of novel strategies in patients.


Computational Core IV

Pre-clinical software and computing tools:


Inveon Research Workplace,






(ROI statistics: mean, median, std, max min, volume, # voxel,  ROI visualization, AUC, ktrans)

Histopathology software and computing tools:

Bitplane Imaris

Definiens Tissue Studio, and

Image-Pro Premier 9.1

(Cell detection, counting cells, nuclear markers, spot counting and vessel counting)

The Computational Core IV provides services and training for image registration and analysis for cellular, pre-clinical and clinical investigations. It also provides computing and software tools as well as on-line data storage for research projects.

Pathology Core V

Leica Cryostat

Leica SM2500 microtome

Thermo Scientific’s Shandon Dinesse ME+ microtome

Thermo Shandon Scientific’s Path Centre Tissue Processor

Laser scanning confocal TS4000 TISSUEscope

Immunohistochemistry staining equipment

The Pathology Core V provides innovative technology to enable whole-mount pathology in a systematic way, preserving the geometric integrity of the sample and enabling accurate correlation with in vivo imaging.

  • University Health Network (UHN) Animal Resource Centre (ARC)
  • UHN Advanced Optical Microscopy Facility (AOMF)
  • UHN Guided Therapeutics Program (GTx)
  • Nanovista
  • Princess Margaret Radiation Medicine Program
  • UHN Techna Institute
  • The DCE (Dynamic Contrast Enhancement) Tool
  • Aspect Imaging
  • Precision X-Ray Inc.
  • Nucro-Technics



STTARR (Spatio-Temporal Targeting and Amplification of Radiation Response Program)