UW-Madison School of Pharmacy

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Ralph M Albrecht, PhD

Affiliate Professor, School of Pharmacy
Professor, Departments of Animal Sciences & Pediatrics

Studies involve the synthesis of colloidal nano-particles of unique elemental compositions and shapes including core/shell particles and the conjugation of the nano-particles to ligands or antibodies. The nano-particle conjugates serve as labels which permit correlative imaging of multiple epitopes/receptors at sub-molecular levels of spatial resolution. Various forms of correlative imaging using interference based light microscopy, energy filtering transmission electron microscopy, and high resolution scanning electron microscopy are under development. The use of EFTEM and aberration corrected STEM with high resolution EDX and EELS permits tomographic high resolution imaging of biological structure and simultaneous identification/localization of different label types. Additional studies involve the synthesis of gold coated, superparamagnetic magnetite core/shell nano-particles. Antibody conjugates of the particles selectively target specific cell surface antigens. Once bound to cell membranes the particles can be inductively heated and used to selectively kill labeled cells or to temporarily permeabilize targeted cells via generation of small reversible membrane holes. The use of magnetite and other nanoparticles with MR and CT imaging is also currently being investigated. Other interests include development of methodology to image and investigate the environmental toxicology of nanoparticles of differing shape, size, and chemical composition. Work also involves the use of microcorrosion casting to investigate vascular development in lymph nodes and elsewhere and to develop high resolution structural mimics of native cell adhesive surfaces. Additionally, collaborative efforts with Dr. Claudia Barreto, Univ. of New Mexico, involve the use of high resolution SEM and elemental analysis to investigate the growth plates and associated putative cellular structures of well preserved juvenile dinosaurs and how these compare to existing avian, reptilian, and mammalian species. Also see the BBPIC web site for additional information on labeling, specimen preparation, and imaging: http://www.ansci.wisc.edu/BBPIC/index.html

  • Director, Biological & Biomaterials Preparation, Imaging, and Characterization Laboratory
  • Principal Instructor, "Animal Sciences Proseminar" (capstone course for departmental undergraduate majors), every year
  • Principal Instructor "Experimental Cellular Biology", alternate yrs
  • Principal Instructor, "Principles & Applications of Electron Microscopy", alternate yrs
  • Principal Instructor, "Immunotoxicology", every 4th yr
  • 4 graduate (PhD) students in training
  • 4 undergraduates in independent research

Background: Dr. Albrecht has faculty appointments in Pharmaceutical Sciences, Animal Sciences, and Pediatrics. He is the Director of the Biological & Biomaterials Preparation, Imaging, and Characterization Laboratory. Dr. Albrecht's research areas include: platelet structure and function; receptor-ligand-cytoskeleton interactions; microvascular development; biomaterial biocompatibility; immunotoxicology/organophosphate immunoactivity; imaging, immunolabeling, and correlative microscopy.

Professional Interests: Include the development of colloidal nano-particles of differing composition and shape for correlative and high resolution labeling in light microscopy, and electron microscopy as well as CT and MR applications. Current studies also involve the synthesis of inductively heated magnetite/gold (core/shell) nano-particles for targeted in vitro and in vivo cell killing of cells (such as tumor or auto-reactive cells) or for selective cell permeation of labeled cells. Other interests include receptor-ligand-cytoskeleton interactions; microvasculature development, biomaterial compatibility, and immunotoxicology.


  • PhD 1976 Bacteriology - University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • BS 1967 Bacteriology - University of Wisconsin-Madison
Highlighted Publications:
  • Karuri, N.W., P.F. Nealey, C.J. Murphy, and R.M. Albrecht. Structural Organization of the Cytoskeleton in SV40 Human Corneal Epithelial Cells Cultured on Nano- and Microscale Topography. Scanning, 30:405-413, 2008.
  • Atapattu, D.N., R.M. Albrecht, D. J. McClenahand, and C.J. Czuprynski. Dynamin-2 dependent targeting of Mannheimia haemolytica leukotoxin to mitochondial cyclophilin D in bovine lymphoblastoid cells. IAI, 76:5357-5365, 2008.
  • R. Murugesan, E. Hanley, R.M. Albrecht, J.A. Oliver, J.A. Heintz, J.L. Lauer, and J.L. Shohet. The effects of plasma-processing conditions on the morphology of adherent human blood platelets. Journal of Applied Physics, 103: In Press, 2008. (Also selected for Virtual J. Biological Physics Research, 5/15/08).
  • Narkar, Y., R. Burnette, R. Bleher, R. Albrecht, and J.R.Robinson. Evaluation of Mucosla Damage and Recovery in the Gastroinestinal Tract of Rats by a Penetration Enhancer. Pharmaceutical Res. 25:25-38, 2008.
  • Bleher, R., I. Kandela, D.A. Meyer, and R.M. Albrecht. Immuno-EM using Colloidal Metal Nanoparticles and Electron Spectroscopic Imaging for Colocalization at High Spatial Resolution. In Press: Journal of Microscopy, 2008.
  • Kandela, I.K., R. Bleher, and R.M. Albrecht. Correlative Light and Electron Microscopy Immunolabeling on Ultrathin Cryosections of Skeletal Muscle Tissue. In Press: Microscopy and Microanalysis, 2008.
  • Albrecht, R.M. and D.A. Meyer. Molecular Labeling for Correlative Microscopy: LM, LVSEM, TEM, EF-TEM and HVEM, Chapter 6, Biological Low Voltage Scanning Electron Microscopy. H. Schatten and J.B. Pawley (eds) Springer Science, New York, 171-196, 2008.
  • Kaiser, M., J. Heintz, I. Kandela, and R. Albrecht. Tumor Cell Death Induced by Membrane Melting via Immunotargeted, Inductively Heated Core/Shell Nanoparticles. Microscopy and Microanalysis 13 (supp. 2):18-19, 2007.
  • Kandela, I.K., and R.M. Albrecht. Fluorescence Quenching by Colloidal Heavy Metal Nanoparticles: Implications for Correlative Fluorescence and Electron Microscopic Studies. Scanning, 29:152-161, 2007
  • Kandela, I.K., R. Bleher, and R.M. Albrecht. Multiple correlative immunolabeling in light and electron microscopy using fluorophores and colloidal metal particles. Journal of Histochem Cytochem. 55:983-990, 2007
  • Sims, P., R. Albrecht, J. Pawley, V. Centonze, T. Derrinck, and J. Hardin. When LM Resolution is not Enough: Correlational LM and EM. Chapter 49, Handbook of Biological Confocal Microscopy, 3rd edition, J.B. Pawley (ed.), Springer Science, New York, 2006.