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University of Sydney welcomes its first super-resolution microscope


13 August 2012

Leica specialist Dr Marko Lampe leading training sessions for the new microscope.
Leica specialist Dr Marko Lampe leading training sessions for the new microscope.

The University of Sydney has welcomed the first ground state depletion (GSD) super-resolution microscope in the Southern Hemisphere, which will enable researchers to see materials at a cellular level and open the way for improvements in the diagnosis of diseases including cancer.

Access to this technology was made possible as a result of the extraordinary networking possibilities created by the University's Charles Perkins Centre initiative - a unique research collaboration of scholars across many disciplines which aims to address the increasing problems associated with obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease worldwide.

The funding for the microscope was secured by a multidisciplinary team from the centre, Bosch Institute, Centenary Institute and the Australian Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis and will allow viewing of cellular structure at a resolution well below the normal diffraction limit of light.

In a recent University-wide user survey, super-resolution microscopy was identified as a core infrastructure capability required to support the Charles Perkins Centre's research strategy, including other researchers across the broader University and the Sydney basin.

The centre's Cellular Imaging Facility (CIF) working group consisting of Filip Braet (Australian Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis), Louise Cole (Advanced Microscopy Facility - Bosch Institute) and Adrian Smith (Cytometry and Imaging Facility - Centenary Institute) have been working for nearly two years on the blueprint of the CIF. The working group was able to acquire the latest addition in the family of super-resolution microscopes as the initial investment in CIF equipment.

This acquisition has been made possible with support from the centre, Sydney Medical School, Faculty of Science and School of Medical Sciences and microscope giant Leica. This type of optical nanoscope that is based on ground state depletion (GSD) technology will be the first of its kind to be delivered in Australia and the Southern Hemisphere.

The only way to convey the growing impact of super-resolution microscopy in the life sciences is to quote Stephan Hell, inventor of GSD-based super-resolution microscopy:

"The ability to view life in nanometre dimensions via super-resolution technology opens the door to an understanding of intracellular life processes which was never thought possible before and which may lead to revolutionary discoveries on the subject of how diseases originate. This is exactly in line with the research mission of the CPC to facilitate ground breaking discoveries concerning chronic diseases that represent the greatest threat to health worldwide."

The Leica GSD super-resolution microscope will initially be based in the Australian Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis (Madsen Building) and will be relocated to the CIF upon completion of the Charles Perkins Centre building.

From September 2012 onwards, the instrument will be accessible to all researchers at no operational costs for the first 12 months. During this period, the working group hope that many users will generate exciting new data that will support future research grant applications, and that this will lead to the start of a new era in cellular microscopy networking at the University.

The working group will keep interested researchers abreast of progress on this exciting research platform in the coming months and will organise a dedicated workshop in advanced optical and super-resolution microscopy towards the end of 2012.


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Media enquiries: Rachel Gleeson, 0478 409 131, 02 9351 3615, rachel.gleeson@sydney.edu.au