Seeing beyond the limit

Monday 29 July 2013


A new super-resolution microscope facility which will allow scientists to see what they had previously only been able to imagine, has been developed at the University of St Andrews.

The £½ million microscope will allow the investigation of biological processes at an unparalleled level of detail, such as how neural pathways are affected in Alzheimer’s disease.  The development of the new microscope is the result of a research partnership between the University and the manufacturer Nikon, and comes from a long-standing collaboration between the University’s Schools of Physics and Astronomy, Biology and Medicine.

Professor Kishan Dholakia of the School of Physics and Professor Frank Gunn-Moore of the School of Biology are leading the project.

Mammalian cell

Professor Gunn-Moore said: “Microscopes have changed a lot in recent years as it has been possible to develop techniques to beat the diffraction limit of light.

“This new microscope will allow us to look into biological processes that I have only ever dreamed of. With my own work in Alzheimer’s disease I hope to investigate how nerve cells talk to each other and, as such, how they make memories”.

Professor Kishan Dholakia said: “We are entering a new era in optical imaging. St Andrews’ innovative advances in photonics are now gaining international recognition and the addition of this new imaging facility will complement our ongoing work and allow us new prospects and insights for biomedical analysis and act as a benchmark for advances in physics.”

Robert Forster, General Manager, Nikon UK Limited said: “We are delighted the team at St Andrews asked us to help them with their challenges to visualise cellular structures and molecular activity at resolutions never before achieved by conventional light microscopy with our new Nikon N-SIM super resolution system.

“We have been working with Professor Dholakia and Professor Gunn-Moore for over ten years now to help the group further develop their Nikon systems through our Partners in Research scheme.

“Nikon Corporation is at the forefront of live cell imaging in the field of Biological Science with our technology and we are looking forward to helping the team at St Andrews expand their research further still in the field of Biophysics.”

The facility has been made possible thanks to the generosity of private donations from St Andrews alumni, including Dr E. Killick, the 600th anniversary appeal ‘BRAINS’ project, the Schools of Medicine and Physics and Astronomy, the RS MacDonald Trust and Scottish Universities Life Sciences Alliance (SULSA).

Note to Editors

Please contact the press office for images.

Professor Frank Gunn-Moore is available on 01334  463523  from 11am-3pm today.

Professor Kishan Dholakia is available on 01334  463184 from 11am-4pm today.

Issued by the Press Office, University of St Andrews

Contact Victoria Herd on 01334 462530/ 07850 900 351

Ref: (microscope  29/07/13)

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