Molecular Microscopy and Optical Probes
Another large area of active research in the Biophysics Group is molecular microscopy. At the heart of the initiative is the idea that the next generation of microscopy will depend on novel optical probes made of proteins and nucleic acids, rather than organic chemicals. The ability to visualize the targeting within cells of native macromolecules has already become key to understanding their biological function. The next step is to understand how they assemble into the complexes that carry out cellular functions, and to monitor their activities in real-time in vivo with microscopy so that the spatial location of the activity can be understood.
Fluorescent indicator dyes have revolutionized our understanding of cellular signaling by providing continuous measurements of physiological events in single cells and cell populations with high temporal and spatial resolution. Until now, these organic dyes have been limited in scope because they must be synthesized chemically and introduced as hydrolyzable esters or by microinjection, meaning that they either fill all cells in a tissue entirely, or that only one or a small number of cells are labeled. In absence of targeting of the organic dyes to specific cell types, optical signals of interest are often drowned out either by indicator background from inactive cells, or by signals in cells that are not the focus of interest. Moreover, local signals due to protein-protein interactions are not measurable in the bulk cytoplasm, which organic dyes fill.
Other research areas:
Structural Biophysics and Protein Dynamics
Cell Signaling and Cellular Physiology
Computational Biology and Genomics
Brain Imaging and Bioelectronics