Improving Our Whole Slide Imaging System

By: Yongfu Wang

My name is Yongfu Wang and I am a senior histotechnologist at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research. A few years ago, some of the core research support facilities at Stowers Institute decided to invest in a whole slide imaging system. We decided to use an Olympus VS 120 Slide Scanner for our slide preparation and staining unit, which we paired with other hardware and imaging acquiring and analyzing software. We then set up an IT network for data sharing and storage infrastructure, and our Whole Slide Imaging System was complete.

Over the years, as we used the WSI System, I would often notice that we would have to stop and troubleshoot. As a member of NSH, I heard about the Digital Pathology Certificate Program that has recently become available on NSH’s Learning Center, and it caught my attention. I thought that this might offer me the opportunity to learn more about our Whole Slide Imaging System, and it could benefit my daily work in the research lab at our Institute.

I took advantage of the discounted member price and purchased the course. I couldn’t wait to dive into the modules. As soon as I watched the first video I was amazed by the informative and knowledgeable contents that the NSH and DPA have included. The materials are well-organized so that even a beginner wouldn’t have a chance to get lost in the middle. The program will guide a student step by step from planning, implementing, to making a whole slide image system fully functional in use, no matter if the student is from a research, clinical or educational institute.

A headphone and a phone with a data plan are enough for a student to learn this online course anywhere, anytime he or she wants. Just like watching a movie, I was so immersed into the online course and ended up reaching the final exam point within a week. Looking back at the notes that I took, I was confident I would be able to better use our WSI System at Stowers for multiple ongoing projects.

Since we had already implemented our system, I was watching with particular interest in how we could improve. I think I will be able to minimize difficulties we have been having with whole slide scanning, and assuring accuracy of image analyzing. Another major obstacle in whole slide imaging that the course addressed was reducing the re-scan rate, or amount of slides that need to be re-scanned due to an error in scanning. Improving this, and our data storage and management plans should greatly improve the efficiency of our Whole Slide Imaging System at Stowers.

I purchased the course with money from the Sakura Finetek Professional Scholarship I received last year through NSH. I feel I made a very good use of the funds by taking this program, and I would encourage other members to consider applying for scholarships to advance their knowledge. It will in turn benefit our community through education, research or clinical patient care.

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