Who we are and what we do...

What is Histochemistry?

The word Histochemistry comes from the Greek “histo” (meaning tissues) and chemistry. It involves the differential staining of cells and other tissue elements based on the chemical differences of their parts. Most tissues are transparent, so in order to see them under a light microscope, we need to stain them. There are many histochemical techniques, each one suited for a specific purpose. Different chemicals react with some of the many tissue components, forming small color or fluorescent structures that can be observed under a microscope. Examples of histochemistry include using a particular dye to stain a specific structure, an antibody to detect a protein, a lectin to detect a carbohydrate, or synthetic nucleic acids to detect DNA or RNA. More complex techniques can give us even more information, such as how molecules interact with each other, or how fast they move within a given subcellular compartment. These techniques give us important information about tissue and cellular structure, biochemical processes, and molecular components of any biological sample. Through histochemistry, we can identify changes in tissues throughout development and disease, and aid the finding of new disease markers.

Who Uses Histochemistry?

Scientists, pathologists, veterinarians, and others that want to study normal tissue function or identify changes that may indicate a disease stage can all use histochemistry. Simply put, if you need a microscope, chances are you need histochemistry!

What is Microscopy?

Microscopy is the technical field of creating and/or using microscopes to view objects that are too small to be seen with the naked eye, from the structure of a hair to tiny bacteria, all the way to single molecules. There are many types of microscopes, each one best suited for a particular application. Light microscopes are the most common, and used to image tissues and cells either live or stained. Fluorescence microscopes shine a light with a particular color on the sample, to detect the light that the sample shines back, at a different color. Electron microscopes use a beam of accelerated electrons to image very small objects, such as subcellular components (the plasma membrane, mitochondria, or part of a nucleus, for example). Lastly, single molecule microscopes are highly advanced instruments that can image tiny molecules with nanometer resolution.

What do we do at the Histochemical Society?

The Histochemical Society is an organization of scientists sharing a passion for the development and use of visual techniques that provide biochemical and molecular information about the structure and function of cells, tissues and organs and for the dissemination of this knowledge through education and outreach. We gather in-person and virtually to discuss our work and to encourage and mentor trainees in the field.

Why it is important to be a part of the society?

HCS provides a community of supportive peers and mentors with common professional interests. As a member, you can develop skills, gain leadership experience, and nurture relationships that are important to career growth and lifelong friendships.  HCS offers award programs and grants for scientists at all levels, as well as opportunities to participate in national and international meetings. Click here to learn more about HCS membership.