Christine Farrar, PhD

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Director, Microscopy, Imaging, and Flow Cytometry Core
Associate Member, Cancer Biology Program, University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center

Academic Appointment(s):
Associate Professor (Associate Specialist), University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Cooperating Graduate Faculty, Cell and Molecular Biology, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

PhD, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of California, Los Angeles

Research Focus

Dr. Farrar serves as the Director of the Microscopy, Imaging, and Flow Cytometry Shared Resource at the University of Hawai'i Cancer Center (UHCC). This core facility provides UHCC members with access to a variety of microscopy and imaging instrumentation including those for epifluorescence microscopy, laser scanning confocal microscopy, total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy, single-molecule super-resolution microscopy, live cell imaging, and preclinical bioluminescence and fluorescence imaging. In addition, laser microdissection is available for isolating rare cells or areas of tissue from sample slides for further downstream analysis. The resource also has two flow cytometers for quantifying cellular characteristics, such as immunophenotyping, intracellular signaling, apoptosis/necrosis, proliferation, cell cycle, and transfection efficiency, among others. This shared resource offers training and consultation on all instrumentation. We also offer educational opportunities through workshops and courses covering the fundamentals of microscopy and flow cytometry, image processing, and analysis for cancer-relevant techniques, such as co-localization, live-cell imaging, angiogenesis, cell cycle, cellular outgrowth, cell tracking, and more.

Dr. Farrar's main research interests involve developing techniques in live cell imaging for the purpose of contributing to the understanding of the underlying mechanisms that control cancer cell initiation, progression and metastasis. Some of this work entails developing methods that use optical highlighter fluorescence proteins, FRET-based biosensor probes, photobleaching, fluorescence speckle, and other techniques that are used to track the dynamic behavior of proteins in living cancer cells. Other methods involve optogenetics and using the ability to control gene expression in living cells with light activation and/or deactivation. One advantage of light-inducible systems compared to those chemically induced is that they are less limited by spatial and temporal requirements and are more easily utilized under the microscope.