For the University of Southampton’s (England) Optoelectronics Research Centre, the new year launches a five-year, £2.6 million European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant designed to advance biophotonics research in the near- to mid-infrared range that should eventually produce fast, low-cost spectroscopic point-of-care devices and chemical analysis tools for protecting water quality and food safety. The biophotonics project was selected from among nearly 2,300 proposals. Competitive and selective, ERC Advanced Grants aim to fund research that is highly ambitious, pioneering, and creative—and promises major breakthroughs with far-reaching impact.
Other universities will receive funds from two National Cancer Institute (NCI) grants totaling $8 million to enable the study of cancer metastasis—by way of two-photon microscopy and advanced fluorescent proteins. Understanding the spread of cancer from the primary tumor to other parts of the body is extremely limited and so are the opportunities for preventing it, explains John Condeelis, Ph.D., a principal investigator on both grants and co-director of the Gruss Lipper Biophotonics Center at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University (Bronx, NY).
The first grant, for $4 million over five years, will establish a tumor microenvironment research center (TMEN Center) at Einstein, one of 11 new national centers created by NCI’s Tumor Microenvironment Network. The research will focus on breast and head and neck tumors, but the results should be applicable to a wide variety of solid tumors. Other investigators on this grant are from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York; College of Nanoscale Science & Engineering, University at Albany, State University of New York; and the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
The second $4 million grant, “In vivo multiphoton based imaging of complex cancer cell behavior,” will enable study of the spread of breast cancer cells from the primary tumor using high-resolution multiphoton microscopy, advanced fluorescent proteins, and a novel methodology that uses computer modeling to analyze cancer, the latter of which may be able to identify the genes that propel cell migration, dissemination, and other tumor-cell behaviors involved in metastasis.