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Dr Peter O'Toole
Head of Imaging and Cytometry



Peter O'Toole gained his PhD in the Cell Biophysics Laboratory at the University of Essex and has been involved in many aspects of fluorescence imaging and flow cytometry. Since arriving at York, he has firmly established the Imaging and Cytometry Laboratory as one of the top European centres

With multiple close and personal external collaborations and consultancy agreements, including current agreements with  Carl Zeiss, Beckman Coulter and Phase Focus, the lab remains equipped with the very latest equipment and is playing a key role in influencing the direction of future commercial systems.

Peter’s research is now focussed on both technology and method development. Peter is PI/Co-PI on multiple funded grants. These include current funding from PALM/STORM/SIM for Super Resolution Microscopy at York; a Wellcome Trust Technology Development Grant, ‘Photonic hyperspectral no-label spotter (PHENOSPOT)’; EDCTP, a Clinical development of a therapeutic vaccine for prevention of post kala azar dermal leishmaniasis; Digital Spatial Profiling in biomedical research with the Wellcome Trust; BBSRC for a Deep Learning and new analytical approaches for live cell imaging;

Peter is involved in a York-Maastricht Partnership Investment Fund working on Immune system regulated metabolism across diseases.

Aside from running the facility and research, Peter also holds multiple key positions with different organisations.  Peter is Vice President of the Royal Microscopical Society, an executive committee member of CTLS, and sits on the European Light Microscopy Initiative steering committee.

He also sits on numerous grant panels including BBSRC ALERT, MRC Capital Equipment, Wellcome Trust, and for Chan Zuckerberg Science.

Finally, Peter also organises a host of microscopy and cytometry courses that have now been running for over 18 years and attract delegates from every corner of the industrial world.  These include small hands-on confocal and flow cytometry courses to the Royal Microscopical Society Light Microscopy Summer School and Practical Flow Cytometry Courses. Peter was Chair of the MicroScience Microscopy Congress 2012/14/15/17 and has been Vice Chair for the European Microscopy Congress 2012 and Chair of ELMI 2007, 2018 and 2021. He has also helped kick start the Facility Meetings for LM and Flow cytometry, hosting the inaugural meetings and helping these develop to sustainable key meetings for the community.


2016 - present Director Bioscience Technology Facility
2002 - present Head of Imaging and Cytometry Department of Biology, University of York
1998 - 2002 Post-doc University of Essex
1998 PhD University of Essex
1994  BSc (hons) University of Essex




The below excludes pure commercial funded projects.

2021-2025 Technology Development Grant, ’Photonic hyperspectral no-label spotter (PHENOSPOT)’, Wellcome Trust 221349/Z/20/Z, £954,556 Co-I

2021-2022 Automated Morphological Characterisation of Hyphae (AMCH), (£49,978 THYME) in collaboration with Teeside Co-I

2020-2023 PALM/STORM/SIM Super Resolution Microscopy at York - £627k (£406k BBSRC (BB/T017589/1) + £221k other) PI

2020-2023 Characterising the margin zone of infiltrative glioma using a newly created in vivo craniotomy model. Brain Research UK Co-I

2020-2021 A UK underpinning platform to study immunology and immunopathology of COVID-19: The UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium – MRC Co-I

2020-2022 Immune system regulated metabolism across diseases. York-Maastricht Partnership Investment Fund €183,615 Joint PI

2020-2020 Development of novel class of fluorophore for microscopic imaging and flow cytometry, BBSRC BIV £10k PI

2019-2023 Deep Learning and new analytical approaches for live cell imaging – BBSRC AI PhD Studentship Joint PI

2018-2023 Digital Spatial Profiling in biomedical research. Wellcome Trust £500,206 Co-I

2018-2023 Clinical development of a therapeutic vaccine for prevention of post kala azar dermal leishmaniasis EDCTP €8M (€3.6M to York) Co-I

2018-2019 High definition ion-mobility mass spectrometry and imaging for metabolomics, lipidomics and glycomics (BB/R013403/1) £766 BBSRC contribution £680k Co-I

2016-2019 Biophysics of Infection and Immunity: From Molecules to Cells to Tissues. MRC Discovery Award (MC_PC_15073) Co-I.

2013-2017 Bio-Continuum Microscopy: Seamless imaging from the micro- to the nano-scale. MRC/BBSRC (MR/K01580X/1) £1.55m. PI of collaborative grant in collaboration with CRUK. York share ~£1m

2013-2015 KTP Associate in Stain-free cell imaging using the Phase Focus Virtual Lens®. TSB grant with EPSRC contribution (KTP No. KTP009111)

2010-2013 Novel approaches to CLEM and atmospheric SEM BBSRC/JEOL CASE studentship

2010-2011 Assessment of Virtual Lenses for biological applications N8 METRC £49k with further support from Industrial partner PhaseFocus (£70k plus beta-test microscope system).

2008-2010 Development of Nanoprobes for biological submicroscopic multicolour imaging BBSRC TDRI grant (BB/F004729/1) £1m. PI of collaborative grant with Brunel.

2007-2008 Exploiting advances in imaging in microbiology: methodology development for using a multiphoton laser scanning microscope for biofilm analysis. BBSRC TDRF (BB/F0036921). Co-applicant £35k

2007-2010 High Through-put Imaging of Signaling Pathways in Pericyte – Endothelial Cell Interactions  BBSRC/Astra Zeneca CASE studentship (co-supervisor)

High resolution of SEM imaging of meristems, parasites, bacteria, tissues, sperm and biomaterials in a multi-user facility.  BBSRC REI( BB/D5244241) £150k

Research group(s)

Senior Technician Karen Hodgkinson  
Senior Technician  Graeme Park  
Experimental Officer Grant Calder  
Experimental Officer Clare Steele-King  
Experimental Officer Karen Hogg  
Experimental Officer Joanne Marrison  
PhD Student Laura Wiggins  
Visiting Associates

Ian Morrison
Meetal Solanki
Jessica Rickman
Daniel Ghete


Contact details

Dr Peter O'Toole
Head of Imaging and Cytometry
Department of Biology
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: 01904 328722
Fax: 01904 328804