What Is Stereology?

Stereology is simply the study of estimating geometric quantities—obtaining information from flat, two-dimensional images. 

In 1961, the journal Science carried the following announcement:

"An International Society of Stereology (the science of three-dimensional interpretation of flat images) has been formed for the exchange of ideas concerning applicable research methods in microanatomy, cytology, ultrastructure studies, metallurgy, geology, astronomy, and cosmology. Inquiries are invited concerning membership, or the activities of the society."

There are many examples today of estimating geometric quantities that are 2-dimensional. The more challenging concepts deal with the estimation of 3-dimensional quantities based on the observation of 2-dimensional images. 

Today, the field of stereology has evolved to include the study quantification in 3 dimensions. In fact, today the most common estimates are quantities in 3-dimensional material. Examples of this are the number of brain cells within a brain region, the length of capillaries, the volume of a tumor, as well as the percentage of quartz in granite. 

In recent years, advent of design-based stereology has improved the accuracy and reliability of quantification in biological research. The application of design-based stereological methods to the analysis of the central nervous system, as well as other organs, has contributed considerably to our understanding of the functional and pathological morphology of the body.

More Information about Stereology

Stereology.info provides the most comprehensive information about stereology on the web. Designed to introduce both basic and advanced concepts in the field of stereology, the emphasis is on the use of stereology in biological research, though anyone interested in learning the basic concepts of stereology will find something of interest.


Stereology System

Stereo Investigator is the only complete, scalable solution from brightfield to confocal stereology, with tools for image analysis, mapping, and measurement all in one software package. It has been cited in over one thousand peer-reviewed journal articles—more than any other stereology system. Stereo Investigator is an integral component of ongoing work in numerous fields, and it has contributed to recent advances in disease research, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s.

Stereology Contract Services

A trusted component of stereological analyses for pharmaceutical, biomedical, and neuroscience research, MBF Labs services are ideal for anyone looking for expert stereological analysis but lacking in-house instrumentation or expertise. MBF Labs scientists and technicians collect the data, interpret the results, and prepare a final report. Whether it is brain, lung, or other biological tissue, MBF Labs will get accurate results needed for research.

Recommended Stereology Courses and Workshops

Practical Workshop in Confocal Microscopy and Stereology

Organized by Dr. Daniel Peterson
August 13-17, 2018
Chicago, IL (USA)

Description of the Workshops:

  • To provide intensive, hands-on training in the cutting edge technologies of confocal microscopy and quantitative histology using design-based stereology. Evening sessions offer individual training and project consultation
  • Extensive group discussion- participants are encouraged to bring their own material and to discuss their projects

Who Should Attend

  • Graduate students who need to use modern microscopy or stereology in their projects
  • Postdoctoral fellows who would benefit from a comprehensive introduction to microscopy and stereology
  • Young investigators who need to incorporate these analytical approaches into their labs
  • Investigators new to histological analysis who need a rapid and complete introduction to these techniques

Experienced Instructor:

Daniel A. Peterson, Ph.D. has been conducting international courses in microscopy and quantitative histology since 1996. Dan is an NIH-funded investigator in neural repair and stem cell biology who maintains an active lab. He is on the editorial board of Neurobiology of Aging, Frontiers in Neuroscience and Stem Cells and Development among other journals in the field of regenerative medicine and is a frequent ad-hoc reviewer for a number of neuroscience, stem cell, and clinical journals. Dan served as Chairman of an NIH study section (Neurogenesis and Cell Fate) and is Professor and Vice-Chairman of Neuroscience and Director of the Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine.

Note: MBF has a policy of not promoting courses that are taught by commercially affiliated instructors. There are other stereology courses that are offered by organizations that use instructors with direct commercial interests in the products that are demonstrated during these courses. If you have a doubt, ask the instructor directly if they have a commercial affiliation with the products demonstrated at their course. Contact MBF if you have any questions about courses not listed here or about our policy.

Copyright MBF Bioscience 2018