Micron wins award for next phase in its development
Drosophila primary spermatocyte cells. Nuclei are stained blue with DAPI, microtubules are marked green and the Golgi stacks are labeled red. Image from Alan Wainman. Raff Lab (Click to enlarge)
Micron, the advanced bio-imaging facility centered in the department, has been awarded a renewal of its Strategic Award from the Wellcome Trust to continue its state-of-the-art collaborative activities until at least 2020.
Micron's Director Ilan Davis, together with deputy-Director Jordan Raff at the Dunn School, aim to expand the co-ordinating role played by Micron in this new phase, bringing in additional departments and technologies. This includes Christian Eggeling from the WIMM, Martin Booth from Engineering, Yvonne Jones and Kay Grunewald from the WTCHG, and Achillefs Kapanidis from Physics.
The £4.6million Strategic Award will support the purchase or construction of bespoke microscopes, the development of new tools (analytical and chemical), and increase access and support for users.
The new investment, together with substantial support from the University and existing support from the MRC and other funders, will allow Micron to continue to develop as one of the UK's leading bio-imaging facilities.
'Micron is an exemplar of how complex technologies can be offered to researchers,' says Professor Davis. 'There's been a shift in biology to big technologies that cannot be supported by single labs, and the field is evolving so fast that individuals cannot keep up with this.'
'The infrastructure required to make the technologies available widely is substantial. It's not a question of simply pressing a button - for example, the data analysis aspect is complex and needs a deep understanding.'
The award will enable the development of new imaging technologies as well as the continued development of existing microscopy systems. Off-the-shelf microscopes purchased from Zeiss, which provide moderate super-resolution and are very sensitive, will expand Micron's capabilities. Two new systems, the Lattice Lightsheet system and the 4Pi-SMS microscope, will be built.
Mouse myoblast cell in late stage of cell division, imaged with super-resolution 3D-SIM. Microtubules are marked yellow, the reconstituting nuclear lamina is red, and nuclei are stained blue with DAPI. Image: Lothar Schemerlleh. (Click to enlarge)
Janelia Campus Nobel Laureate Eric Betzig recently developed the revolutionary Lattice Lightsheet system (1). It is ideal for rapid and non-disruptive long-term live cell imaging as it has particularly good light efficiency and therefore causes less damage. Christian Eggeling will lead this work at the WIMM where the microscope will be used to look at the immune system responses live. It will be one of the first instruments of its type in the UK.
The single-molecule high-resolution system 4Pi-SMS is tailored to deep imaging of samples. It was developed by Jim Rothman at Yale (2) and a prototype is currently being built at the Gurdon Institute in Cambridge. In Oxford, Martin Booth in the Department of Engineering has developed the necessary adaptive optics, which allow corrections of aberrations, to image deep. He will spearhead the building of a replica microscope making Micron's instrument the third in the world after Yale and the Gurdon Institute.
The continued development of existing microscopy systems will focus on completion of a DeepSIM microscope, which has already progressed well from a long-standing collaboration with Professor John Sedat at UCSF. The system lends itself to specimen manipulation, such as microinjection, at the same time as imaging. Like 4Pi-SMS, it uses adaptive optics and there are no commercial systems currently available. Micron researchers have developed user-friendly software that will make the system easy to use for biologists.
Micron will continue its collaboration with Diamond to improve a version of structured illumination microscopy (a mode of super-resolution microscopy) to be used by researchers alongside X-ray microscopy and EM. It will also continue to develop the NanoImager, a compact desktop single-molecule microscopy designed and developed in the laboratory of Achillefs Kapanidis, Professor of Biological Physics at Oxford.
Professor Davis comments that the diversity of expertise across Oxford and willingness of individuals to work together has been crucial to Micron's success. 'The landscape of researchers in Oxford is great and there is a high degree of co-operation between them. We are also fortunate to have tremendous institutional support - both financially and in support of the concept.'
The equipment at Micron is available to everyone across Oxford and where appropriate, outside Oxford. For a list of the publications from Micron, see here.