A Look Inside Dr. Mark West’s New Book, Basic Stereology for Biologists and Neuroscientists

Stereology has come a long way since Dr. Mark West started using the method of quantitative analysis in his research. The assumption-based or model-based stereological methods of the 1970s have been replaced by the more sophisticated design-based or unbiased stereological methods used today. Dr. West, a Professor of Medical Neurobiology at Aarhus University in Denmark and author of the most cited scientific papers on the application of modern stereological methods to the nervous system has been there every step of the way. His new book, Basic Stereology for Biologists and Neuroscientists, is a guide to the “new stereology” that presents the fundamental concept behind design-based stereology and offers concise instruction on how to design and critically evaluate your own study. Read our Q&A with Dr. West to find out more about his new book, and why modern stereological methods are better than ever.

Why did you decide to write a book on stereology? During the past two decades, a large number of scientific papers have been published that collectively represent a paradigm shift in thinking about how to derive meaningful quantitative data about structural features in biological tissues; these are often referred to as design-based or unbiased stereological methods. This book is an attempt to present a number of the concepts and principles of the new stereology in one coherent discussion of what these methods involve in terms of their proper application.

How long have you been using stereology in your research? The first paper that I published using stereology was in 1974. It involved the use of assumption or model-based stereological methods and allowed me to appreciate the virtues of the subsequently developed modern design-based stereological methods described in my book.

Why is stereology the best method for quantitative analysis of biological tissues? The unique aspect of the new design-based stereology is that, unlike previously available methods, these methods involve no prerequisite information about the structural features being quantified and emphasize the importance of estimates of total quantities such as number, length, surface, and volume.

Do you have any stereology workshops coming up? I will be teaching a two-day “Introduction to Stereology for Neuroscientists” course July 12-13, 2012 in Barcelona, immediately proceeding the Federation of European Neuroscientists meeting. And I’ll be teaching the same course prior to the Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting this October in New Orleans.

Who would you recommend order a copy of your book? Anyone interested in knowing how to design, supervise, and critically evaluate stereological studies of the biological tissue including the nervous system should own this book.

Basic Stereology for Biologists and Neuroscientists will be available in August, 2012 through Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press. Pre-order Dr. Mark West’s book now to receive a 10% discount.

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