Congratulations to Ezequiel Miron from the Schermelleh Group, Department of Biochemistry at the University of Oxford whose image is one of the selected winners of the Wellcome Image Awards 2017.
His picture, captured using the OMX V3 super-resolution microscope in Micron, shows the nucleus of one of two new daughter cells. The DNA in this cell has somehow become caught, and is being pulled between the two dividing cells causing the DNA to be stretched out inside the nucleus; DNA fibres can be seen running through it. As the new cells have moved apart the DNA is being pulled through a perforation in the nuclear membrane. The tension distributed by the rope-like DNA has deformed the usually circular envelope of the nucleus.
On the 25th and 26th of June, Micron was involved in setting up one of thirty stalls at the Oxford Science Fair, part of the Oxford Science Festival 2016. We joined scientists from across Oxford to exhibit work from neurology, quantum computers and even the future of our diet (FYI… its insects!); we, of course, brought the microscopes! Our stall was a joint effort with members of the Srinivas and Mommersteeg groups in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy & Genetics, focusing on developmental biology. The stall was packed with chick and zebrafish embryos and dissected mouse hearts at different stages of their development, as well as live zebrafish embryos under a microscope connected to a screen via a Raspberry Pi camera from Micron. Children and adults alike gasped wide-eyed at the sight of the beating heart on screen, visible through the transparent body of the zebrafish. As further visual aids we projected movies and microscope time-lapse experiments of the development of zebrafish, chick, mouse and human embryos.
Ezequiel Miron from the Schermelleh group at Micron took the data used in making the 3D printed models to generate explorable giant scale replicas within the world of the game Minecraft. These virtual worlds were projected on the big screen and generated a lot of interest among the young boys visiting our stall, and the parents who wanted to know where to download them for their kids to explore at home.
That achievement along with many other smiling faces made this event a wonderful experience in public engagement.
The Minecraft worlds of the developing heart and the mammalian nucleus can be found at:http://www.schermellehlab.org/minecraft/
Many more pictures of this event can be found at: http://www.schermellehlab.org/oxsci/
Micron 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.
Janelia Campus Nobel Laureate Eric Betzig recently developed the revolutionary Lattice Lightsheet system (Science (2014) Vol. 346). 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 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. The lab of Achillefs Kapanidis, Professor of Biological Physics at Oxford, has developed the NanoImager, a compact desktop microscopy for single molecule analyses, in collaboration with David Sherratt in Biochemistry.
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.
Article by Jane Itzhaki
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