Two grants announced today (18th December 2013) by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) totalling £1.5 million have been awarded to the Central Laser Facility's ULTRA
facilities, situated in the Research Complex at Harwell.
The funding will be used to bring two new world-leading instruments to the scientific user community.
Arepresentation of the times scales over which LIFEtime can probe using clockhands representing femtoseconds, picoseconds and nanoseconds and calendarrepresenting the “slow millisecond” timescale.
The first grant was awarded to Prof. Mike Towrie, who will use the funding to develop the unique LIFEtime instrument as an extension to the ULTRA facility. This technique uses ultrafast lasers to record on the same instrument, at the same time, both fast and slow measurements of changes taking place within a sample so that they can be compared in a reliable way. Looking at a sample over different timescales, from the very fast initial reaction that occurs when a laser hits the sample (100 fs - 10 ps) all the way to the ‘slower’ (ms - s) follow-on reaction happening in the aftermath, can reveal processes that would otherwise be undetectable. These processes could uncover crucial information about how bacteria and plants respond to light and how DNA is damaged.
The second grant, awarded to Prof. Marisa Martin-Fernandez, will fund a STimulated Emission Depletion (STED) microscope. This will add to the existing PALM/STORM super-resolution microscopes situated within the OCTOPUS cluster and enables a lateral resolution of tens of nanometres.
Standard ensemble ofthe actin cytoskeleton, structures in the cell thought to be important to theprotein-protein interaction implicated in many cancers.
Gathering information for developing ‘nerve guidance conduits’ (NGC) which are used to bridge the gap in nerve injuries where the damage is so severe that nerves are not growing back is one way in which the microscope will be used. The new microscope will enable imaging at high resolution the interaction between the NGC and the nerve cells to optimise its structure and chemistry to produce more effective ‘bridges’.
Another area of work will be to monitor the behaviour of receptor molecules in plants as they respond to bacteria attacks to gain knowledge on how plants can be developed that would be more resistant to attack, reducing the requirement for pesticides.
Work looking at the interactions of special frameworks or ‘scaffolds’ with cells, which are being used to re-generate tissue and repair bone in an ageing population, will also be possible as a result of the grant.
The grants totalling around £1.5 million from BBSRC make up fifteen percent of the £10 million total grants being announced by BBSRC today.