- It gives us completely new opportunities to investigate new and unprecedented aspects of some of the diseases that really drag down people's average life expectancy, says Professor Jonathan Brewer.
Among other things, he researches 3D-printed models of artificial skin and skin cancer and is the head of the center, which places SDU in the network of universities, such as American Harvard Medical School and Princeton University, which constitute the leading research institutions in bioimaging, which is a combination of different technologies and techniques with which one sees and examines biology on a microscopic level.
- This is where we can visually go in and see and identify how diseases manifest themselves at the cellular level, whether it is cancer cells, fat cells, nerve cells or a completely different type of cell, Jonathan Brewer explains.
Previously, the technologies and equipment limited the researchers, as it was only possible to look more closely at biological material such as groups of molecules in cells measuring down to 200 nanometers.
- Now we can instead go into the cells and take a closer look at details in the molecules by focusing on just 20 nanometers, taking a picture in super resolution and examining diseases with a new approach that gives us a whole new insight, he says.
According to Marianne Holmer, dean of the Faculty of Science at SDU, the impressive facilities help to cement the university's position within this research area.
- With the establishment of this Nikon Center of Excellence, we therefore ensure that SDU remains in the absolute front at this point, she says.
The center, which is part of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, will be used by research groups across faculties and departments at SDU. Thus, the new facilities will be used diligently, which increases the likelihood of gaining knowledge that may lead to new treatment options for serious diseases.
- For example, we can write a protocol and program a new microscope to automatically take super-resolution images of thousands of biological samples, analyze data and compare healthy cells with diseased cells. That way, we now get more data and better data, which increases the quality of our research experiments considerably, says Jonathan Brewer.
In addition, the new equipment in the center is generally far more accessible and usable than the equipment previously available. This means that it is not necessarily researchers with specialized experience in bioimaging who handle the equipment.
- The programming, once designed by a specialized bioimaging researcher, can be reused by a research fellow with a different background, who also needs to collect data from many other biological samples, Jonathan Brewer explains.
In the field of molecular biology research into diseases, it is often the comparison between what happens in diseased cells and what happens in healthy cells that can lead to new insights. With the center, the university's cancer researchers and diabetes researchers as well as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's researchers and a whole lot of other researchers will have the opportunity to supplement their research projects with knowledge that could potentially be the missing piece in the puzzle.
- The center will significantly strengthen the interdisciplinary research at the university, both internally and in collaboration with partners outside SDU. It is absolutely essential to be able to solve complex problems within research in health and science, emphasizes the faculty's dean Marianne Holmer.