Training in advanced imaging.
Particularly when applied in combination, new imaging technologies promise to enable unprecedented insights and findings in life sciences research. Yet, nowhere in the world is there currently a centre dedicated to giving researchers access to the combination of the latest optical and electron microscopy technologies, to training scientists to work with the complex technologies, and to refining these technologies. In fact, even the access to each of the very expensive and complex technologies by itself is currently limited to only a few sites.
In 2018, construction of the Imaging Technology Centre will begin in Heidelberg at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), one of the world’s foremost basic research centres. It will be the first centre to provide researchers from all over the globe access to these technologies in combination.
The Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation will donate 5 million euros toward the new centre’s operations, in particular to training scientists in the use of the highly complex microscopes, and to supporting their research with them. The building and the equipment of the new centre will be financed by the German federal government, the state government of Baden-Wuerttemberg, and industry. The ground-breaking ceremony took place in April 2019.
Unifying light and electron microscopy.
Correlated light and electron microscopy (CLEM) links two technically very different microscopy techniques. It enables researchers to study a given specimen first under a special optical microscope and then under an electron microscope. The optical microscope reveals functional processes in living cells measured in micrometres, while the electron microscope records the structure of proteins measured in nanometres and Angstrom. These and other new microscopy techniques enable breakthrough discoveries by combining functional and structural information. Using them, researchers at EMBL could decipher, for instance, how resistances to HIV medications develop, as well as which cell processes lead to sterility in mammals.
A world-leading research institute.
The European Molecular Biology Laboratory is among the world’s foremost research institutes. This applies, among other things, to its work in developing microscopy and imaging technologies. One of its core tasks is to provide know-how and teach techniques to visiting scientists from around the globe within the scope of cooperative arrangements and courses, and as a service. In addition to its main laboratory in Heidelberg, the EMBL maintains facilities at the European Bioinformatics Institute in Hinxton, UK, as well as in Grenoble, France; Hamburg, Germany; Spain, Barcelona; and Monterotondo, Italy. The EMBL was founded in 1974 and is funded by 20 European countries, as well as Australia.