l scientist profile Dr. Keyser would eventually abandon
rocketry and attend Oberlin College in
Oberlin, Ohio, where he received his under-
graduate degree in biology. he went on to
receive his Ph.D., studying neurobiology and
behavior, at Stony Brook University (SUNy)
at Stony Brook, New york. After receiving
his Ph.D., he worked as a staff fellow in one
of the laboratories at the National Institutes
of health (NIh) in Bethesda, Maryland. It
was while performing an experiment in that
lab that he met his wife, enid, a fellow scien-
tist whom he married in 1984.
A hIgh-REsOLUtION VIsION Dr. Keyser spent two years at the NIh
before returning to SUNy. After five years
there, Dr. Keyser received an unexpected
request: A colleague had been recruited
to San Diego and wanted Dr. Keyser to
join him. The Keysers made the move to
California, where they lived and worked for
nearly a decade before UAB came calling.
Dr. Keyser’s research involves nicotinic
acetylcholine receptors, which allow for the
movement of skeletal muscle. These receptors
Today that facility is known as the UAB
high Resolution Imaging Facility and is home
to a confocal imaging system that is one of only
a few of its type in the country. The facility
now has four confocal microscopes and two
brand-new electron microscopes. “We’re now
one of the best-equipped imaging facilities in
the country,” Dr. Keyser says.
Researchers from across the UAB campus
use the high Resolution Imaging Facility,
including more than 50 Cancer Center
investigators, ranging from basic scientists to
clinicians. Dr. Keyser and his staff work with
investigators to collect and interpret images
of cancerous and sometimes non-cancerous
cells. Often, Dr. Keyser and his team simply
offer advice on designing imaging experi-
ments. Because of its location on the UAB
campus, the facility can offer UAB research-
ers up-to-date equipment and expertise while
charging a fraction of the amount an outside
group would. As technology improves, plans
for the facility continue to grow.
“With confocal imaging, the resolution
capability is about 250 nanometers, which is
less than a single wavelength of blue light,”
Dr. Keyser explains. “We’re actually working
on a system now that will give us resolution
of 50 nanometers, which is smaller than the
nucleus of a cell.”
assemble a confocal lab that would be able to
sustain and grow his research activities.
At the same time, the UAB Compre-
hensive Cancer Center was performing a review
of its shared facilities—which provide neces-
sary resources for investigators across UAB’s
campus—in preparation for its impending
core grant renewal from the National Cancer
Institute. Albert LoBuglio, M.D., then direc-
tor of the center, approached Dr. Keyser about
establishing the confocal imaging facility as a
core shared facility for the Cancer Center. Dr.
Keyser took Dr. LoBuglio up on the offer and
earned the necessary funding from the NCI.
“The support from the Cancer Center was
absolutely essential in establishing the facil-
ity,” Dr. Keyser says.
and Preparative Cytometry Facility in the
Department of Immunology/Rheumatology.
Though the Southeast was not part of
his original plans, Dr. Keyser has no regrets
about coming to UAB. “I get to work with
people from all over campus who are doing
research ranging from human psychophysics
to molecular genetics,” he says. “I’ve learned
new things and gotten to know great people.
It’s been great.”
Center receives $11.5-million SPore in cervical cancer. Award is shared with Johns Hopkins university and the university of Colorado at boulder.
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are found in the brain, retina and other body
tissues and may also play a role in some can-
cers. Dr. Keyser examines where these recep-
tors are expressed in cells and tries to deter-
mine their role in normal cell function and
abnormal cell processes. Because these recep-
tors are so tiny, his work requires extremely
high-resolution imaging equipment, such as a
confocal laser microscope.
Confocal laser scanning is an imaging
technique that allows for enhanced resolu-
tion—sharpness and amount of detail—of
images and 3-D reconstructions. At the time
of Dr. Keyser’s recruitment, however, UAB
did not have a confocal instrument that was
up to date and functional. Dr. Keyser wrote
several grant applications and was able to
thE REwARDs Of thE JOB Though his schedule does not allow much
free time, Dr. Keyser enjoys snow skiing
and “puttering” around his house. “I enjoy
working with my hands,” he says. he also
recently inherited a stamp collection, which
he is learning more about, and both he and
his wife enjoy antiques. his wife also holds a
position at UAB as manager of the Analytical
“We’re NoW oNe oF the
BEst-EqUIppED IMAgINg fACILItIEs
IN thE COUNtRy.” – Kent Keyser, Ph.d.
Dr. boris Pasche recruited to lead Division of Hematology/oncology.
12 u A b C o m P r e H e N S I V e C A N C e r C e N T e r u A b C o m P r e H e N S I V e C A N C e r C e N T e r 13