Undergraduate pathology students visit the Melbourne Histology Platform

The Melbourne Histology Platform recently played host to groups of final year Bachelor of Biomedicine and Bachelor of Science students majoring in Pathology.

On 21st April, groups of students from the University of Melbourne undergraduate subject PATH30002 Techniques for Investigation of Disease visited the Melbourne Histology Platform to learn about the role of histology in identifying and studying disease in human and animal tissues.

Following the histology workflow, students first saw how samples are chemically processed before being embedded in paraffin wax. After observing how paraffin-embedded tissues are sectioned on a microtome, students had an opportunity to gain new histology skills by learning how to collect those tissue sections onto microscope slides to later undergo staining processes.A female student wearing a white laboratory gown and blue surgical mask collecting a paraffin-embedded tissue section onto a glass microscope slide.

After observing MHP's automated stainer in action, students moved onto the microscope to look at samples of liver affected by haemochromatosis - excessive accumulation of iron in the body.

Left image: a microscopic section of a sample of liver from an individual with haemochromatosis; the section is stained with haematoxylin and eosin. Right: a microscopic section of a sample of liver from an individual with haemochromatosis; the section is stained with Perl's Prussian blue, causing iron accumulations in the tissue to appear bright blue. This case study provided the students with insight into how histological stains can highlight specific features of tissues to allow rapid identification of elements that are characteristic of disease processes: in this example, the Perl's Prussian blue stain causes iron accumulations in the liver affected with haemochromatosis to appear bright blue, making their presence in the tissue obvious.

Leaving the teaching laboratory to visit a real research histology platform proved a valuable activity for the students, with lecturer Tom Karagiannis explaining "the students enjoyed it thoroughly and I also enjoyed it as well".

The staff at MHP look forward to the excursion hopefully becoming a staple for the subject in subsequent years.

A group of students wearing white laboratory gowns standing in a laboratory.