Histology Innovation Platform


The GCI's Histology Facility provides a full range of histology services to the McGill research community as well as the surrounding academic and private sectors at very competitive prices.

Under the guidance of a board certified veterinary comparative pathologist, our highly trained histology technicians provide the highest standards in histotechnology services. Under strict quality control surveillance, your samples will be processed in quick turn-around time. Your satisfaction is our pride.

Contact us:

Office 514-398-5647
Lab 514-398-8270
Email histology.gcrc [at] mcgill.ca

Contact names: 

Plinio Da Cruz (plinio.queirozdacruz [at] mcgill.ca)

Nicole Robinson (nicole.robinson2 [at] mcgill.ca)

Grossing Tissue Trimming & Cassetting

Grossing, often referred to as “cut-up”, involves a careful examination of the specimen to ensure that the proper area is chosen and the specimen is the proper thickness. Larger specimens may require further dissection to produce representative pieces from appropriate areas. For example multiple samples may be taken from the excision margins of a tumor to ensure that the tumor specimen has normal tissue surrounding it to check for infiltration. In the case of small specimens the entire specimen may be processed. The tissues selected for processing will be placed in cassettes (small perforated baskets) and batches will be loaded onto a tissue processor for processing through to wax.

If you are not sure what or how you should be submitting your samples we can assist you.

Processing & Embedding

Processing: Tissue Tek VIP5 Vacuum Infiltration Processor

The GCRC Histology Core Facility uses an automatic, self-contained tissue processor, which holds up to 300 cassettes.  The VIP software is programmable for up to 20 different programs for use in the fixation, dehydration, clearing and paraffin of a variety of specimens.  We can customize programs to the specific needs of our clients.

Embedding: Leica EG 1150H

The Leica EG1150 modular tissue embedding center incorporates two separate components, the independent modules offer the flexibility to arrange embedding workflow for maximum efficiency.

Tissue is oriented in a metal mold filled with hot paraffin.

Cutting & Staining Routine & Special Stains

Equipped with various automatic and manual microtomes our staff will provide publication quality paraffin sections from 4 microns or thicker. 

There is 1 Leica microtome dedicated for student use.

The Leica ST5020 Multistainer produces consistent, high-quality results for both routine and special stains and can perform single or multiple protocols at the same time.

Special Stains
We have a large choice of special stains to choose from. 

Can’t find the stain you need?  Contact us at histology.gcrc [at] mcgill.ca for other possibilities.

Stain Results Stain Stain

Congo Red


Oil Red O


Cresyl Violet

Nissel Substances


Glycogen,mucin & some basement membrane


Elastic Fibers

P.A.S./Alcian Blue

To demonstrate the full complement of tissue proteoglycans

Wright Geimsa

Facilitates the differentiation of blood cell types

Prussian Blue


Gomory Reticulin

Reticulum fibers

Toluidine Blue

Mast Cells

Gram Bacteria

Von Kossa


Grocott (GMS)




Luxol Fast Blue



Acid fast Bacilli

Masson’s Trichrome

Mucicarmine Mucin    

Nuclear Fast Red




The histology core is excited to announce a new service for automated immunohistochemistry.
We have established protocols for the following markers:  

  • Ki 67
  • CD31
  • Pan Cytokeratin
  • Paralbumin
  • Phospho-STAT3
  • Samatostain

Other markers may be developed upon request, as long as an appropriate antibody is available. 

Validated IHC Stains


Target Population

Target species


ATP6IP2 (aka PRR)

Cells expressing ATP6IP2

Mouse, human

Specificity of staining uncertain


cells expressing beta-catenin

Mouse, rat, human, primate



cells expressing CEACAM-1

Mouse, human

Mouse monoclonal antibody


T lymphocytes

Mouse, human, rat


Endothelial cells

Mouse only


Endothelial cells

Rat only



Mesenchymal and hematopoietic stem cells, endothelium


Mesenchymal and hematopoietic stem cells, endothelium

Mouse, rat, others


B lymphocytes

all except mouse


Cyclin D1

cells in proliferative phase

mouse, human, rat


CC3 (cleaved caspase-3)

Apoptotic cells

Mouse, human, rat


GFAP (glial fibrillary acidic protein)



phospho-Histone H2A.X

Cells expressing phosphorylation of Histone 2A.X at ser139 (indicating DNA damage)

Mouse, human, rat

May also stain cells undergoing division

phospho-Histone H3

Cells in mitotic phase

Mouse, human




Mouse, human, rat, primate



Proliferating cells (all cell cycle phases)

Mouse, human, others


Melanoma gp100

Melanoma cells

Mouse, human

used with red chromogen (AEC) to distinguish from melanin

MBP (myelin basic protein)

Myelin (cerebral white matter, nerves)




Mouse, rat, human, primate

Cytoplasmic marker



Mouse, rat, human, primate

Nuclear marker


Cells overexpressing p53

Mouse, rat

Should recognize wild and mutant p53

pan-cytokeratin (AE1/AE3)

Most epithelia (cytokeratins 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,10,14,15,16,19)

all except mouse

Does not react with cytokeratin 18 (most hepatocellular carcinomas negative). May react with glial cells and tumors


Parvalbumin-positive neurons


phospho-SMAD3 (ser423/425)

Cells expressing SMAD3 phosphorylation at ser423/425

Mouse, human, primate


phospho-STAT (tyr405)

Cells expressing STAT3 phosphorylation at tyr705

Mouse, human, primate

Staining highly dependent on tissue fixation conditions


Cells producing somatostatin


Spondin 2

Cells expressing spondin 2

Mouse, human

Specificity of staining uncertain


Cells expressing UCP-1

Mouse, rat, others

Specificity of staining uncertain

vWF (vonWillebrand factor)

endothelial cells, platelets

In preparation



Our qualified histology technicians can provide training to staff and students in:

  • General histology protocols (fixation, grossing, sample orientation etc.)
  • Paraffin embedding
  • Sectioning of paraffin and frozen samples
  • Staining of paraffin and frozen sections

The histology core provides a dedicated student room equipped with a Fisher embedder, a Leica microtome, and 2 cryostats. (Microm & Fisher Cryotome).    The student room is available 24/7 all year round.

Tissue Microarrays Construction, Cutting & Staining

TMA Grand Master  (currently the only one in Canada)

Highest capacity: 72 blocks  
• 60 donor blocks at the same time  
• 12 recipient blocks

4 core diameters  
• 0.6 mm max. 558 cores  
• 1 mm max. 286 cores  
• 1.5 mm max. 135 cores  
• 2 mm max. 84 cores

Fastest microarrayer
• 2 mm max. 84 cores
• max. 12 seconds per core   
• Simultaneous loading, imaging, drilling and punching

Smart automation
• Automatic block height measurement to ensure the embedded cores are in alignment with the recipient block surface  
• Automatic barcode reading , donor block and label image saving for reference, project data saving into Excel file  and Automatic PCR extraction

PCR extraction function
• 6 PCR cassettes
•10 PCR tubes/cassettes

Use of cleaning block to avoid cross contamination

Extracted FFPE tissue samples are ready for DNA extraction and PCR analysis with commercially available kits


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