Claire Brown - Associate Professor & Director, Advanced BioImaging Facility

Department of Physiology
McGill University
Bellini Building Room 137A
514-398-4400 ext. 00795

Claire.Brown [at]

Education: B.Sc. Saint Mary's University, Ph.D., University of Western Ontario

Web Sites:

Research Area: Molecular & Cell Biology

I have been working in the field of quantitative bioimaging for over 25 years. My research has focused on applying biophysical techniques to fluorescence microscopy images to extract quantitative data measuring protein distributions, dynamics and interactions. I have applied these techniques to study proteins that regulate cell adhesion and migration to understand how migration is regulated at the molecular level in normal and diseased cellular systems. My research has also focused on optimizing live cell imaging to minimize phototoxicity and ensure the collection of high-fidelity data that is free of light induced artifacts. Quality control and standards for quantitative light microscopy have also been an important area of research. For 15 years, I have been directing the Advanced BioImaging Facility (ABIF) and developing and implementing active learning courses and workshops in fundamental and advanced light microscopy. In 2016, I also took over management of the Cell Imaging and Analysis Network (CIAN) light and the Cystic Fibrosis Translation Research Centre (CFTRc) light microscopes. Overall, I manage 18 research microscopes and a team of staff who provide high quality training and support for these advanced technologies.

Research Description:

Cell Migration

Proper regulation of cell migration is crucial for many biological processes including organ development, tissue repair and the immune response. Defects in cell migration play a central role in developmental disorders, neuronal disorders, tumorigenesis, immune disorders and cancer metastasis. Fundamentally, cell migration is regulated though small adhesive structures across the cell that assemble and disassemble allowing the cell to translocate. My lab applies advanced light microscopy tools including image correlation microscopy in order to understand the molecular mechanisms that spatially and temporally regulate adhesions and control cell migration. An understanding of these fundamental mechanisms will lead to new insights into what causes migration related defects and disease. We are specifically interested in understanding cell migration defects that regulate breast cancer cell invasion and metastasis.

Instrument Standardization and Quality Control

As the Director of the ABIF and manager of the CIAN and CFTRc light microscopes we are developing protocols and standards for testing the quality of light microscopes. This is important for quantitative bioimaging and reproducibility of scientific data. We have developed protocols for measuring laser stability, microscope alignment, resolution, objective lens quality and quality of 3D image data stacks. We are leading world-wide studies on instrument quality and publishing detailed protocols enabling microscopists to validate and maintain their equipment.


Combined the three facilities serve about 200 users from 80 laboratories across Montreal and several from across Canada to conduct their imaging experiments. The facility has expertise in many areas including live cell imaging, total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy, fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM), multi-photon microscopy, laser micro-dissection, fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS), image processing and analysis, spectral imaging and high content screening. We have also developed and run more than 80 workshops and courses, in collaboration with corporations in the field of light microscopy, including the international recognized Montreal Light Microscopy Course (MLMC).

Publication Highlights:

Rajah, A., Boudreau, C.G., Ilie, A., Wee, T.-L., Tang, K., Borisov, A.Z., Orlowski J. Brown, C.M. “Paxillin S273 Phosphorylation Regulates Adhesion Dynamics and Cell Migration through a Common Protein Complex with PAK1 and βPIX” Scientific Reports, 9:11430. (2019)

Tang, K., Boudreau, C.G., Brown, C.M.*, Khadra, A.* (2018) “Paxillin phosphorylation at serine 273 and its effects on Rac, Rho and adhesion dynamics.” PLOS Computational Biology. July 5, 2018: 1-29. * Equal Contribution

Boudreau, C., Wee, T. L., Duh, Y.-R., Couto, M. P., Ardakani, K. H., Brown, C. M. (2016) “Excitation Light Dose Engineering to Reduce Photo-bleaching and Photo-toxicity.” Scientific Rep., 6(30892), 1-12.

Jonkman, J., Brown, C.M. (2015) “Any Way You Slice It—A Comparison of Confocal Microscopy Techniques” J. Biomolecular Tech., 26(2).

Jonkman, J., Brown, C.M., Cole, R.W. (2014) “Quantitative Confocal Microscopy:Beyond a Pretty Picture.” Methods Cell Biol. 123: 113-134.

Broussard, J. A., Lin, Rappaz, B., Webb, D. J., Brown, C.M. (2013) “Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer Microscopy as Demonstrated by Measuring the Activation of the Serine/Threonine Kinase Akt” Nat. Proto., 8(2):265-81.

Cole, R.W., Jinadasa, T., Brown, C.M. (2011) "Measuring and Interpreting Point Spread Functions to Determine Confocal Microscope Resolution and Ensure Quality Control." Nat. Proto. 6, 1929-1941.

Frigault, M. M., Lacoste, J., Swift, J. L. and Brown, C.M. (2009). “Live-cell microscopy-tips and tools.” J. Cell Sci. 122, 753-67.

Link to Dr. Brown's publications

Back to top