An award is made to the University of Georgia to create a next generation optical microscope. This microscope will take advantage of advances in chemistry, astronomy and photonics to achieve unprecedented resolution throughout large biological samples. By combining a new microscopy approach, light sheet microscopy, with technology used to look at distant galaxies and extrasolar planets, our instrument will minimize scattering and aberrations when imaging into thick samples. Combining recent advances in photochemistry with the advanced display inside a flat screen television, the instrument will control the fluorescence to achieve resolutions below the diffraction limit. This will allow subcellular details to be studied throughout zebrafish, fruit flies, roundworms and other organisms essential to modern biology research. Examples of research that will benefit from this instrument include the study of seizures in zebrafish, neuron firing in fruit flies, eye development in mouse embryos, and cell division and differentiation in developing C. elegans roundworms. Once developed, the instrument design will be made available to researchers through an open-source model to speed its adoption. The design, software and instructions will be made available on the internet. Ultimately, we plan to offer a commercial product.
By advancing biological science and improving the study of organisms that are important models for human disease, this project has the potential to improve human health. The ability of this instrument to create high-resolution fluorescence images of entire multicellular organisms will be transformative in developmental biology and other areas of biological research in which the behavior of cells throughout organisms is studied. This project will train the next generation of scientists in interdisciplinary research through the development of this novel instrument, as well as through a course in bioimaging taught by biologists, chemists and engineers. Students from different disciplines will be introduced to all aspects of bioimaging from preparation and staining of samples to construction of a microscope.
This award is being made jointly by two Programs- (1) Instrument Development for Biological Research, in the Division of Biological Infrastructure (Biological Sciences Directorate), and (2) Biophotonics, in the Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems (Engineering Directorate).