April 16, 2008, Nottingham, UK--Scientific questions are becoming increasingly complex, and scientists and engineers must respond by spanning the traditional boundaries between disciplines to develop the sophisticated tools needed to conduct leading research. That's the thinking behind the Institute of Biophysics, Imaging, and Optical Science (IBIOS), a new institute unveiled April 11 at The University of Nottingham that brings engineers, physicists, biologists and chemists together under one roof.
The institute will develop novel imaging technologies using state-of-the-art equipment and use them to solve biological problems. The research could cover any biological system at any scale, from molecules to cells to whole tissue samples. The facility will house a range of optical microscopy equipment and scanning probe systems, including a new scanning conductance ion microscope. Biological and chemical lab facilities will also be available. Software, hardware, and silicon chip engineering facilities will allow researchers to build custom-made cameras, and develop systems designed to tackle specific biological problems.
IBIOS was formed from two existing groups: the Cell Biophysics Group headed by Professor Paul O'Shea, which is part of the School of Biology; and the Applied Optics Group headed by Professor Mike Somekh in the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering. The institute has also appointed two RCUK Academic Research Fellows in functional imaging, Dr. Noah Russell and Dr. Mark Pitter. These permanent positions are funded jointly by the University and the Research Councils. A masters research degree in biophotonics will be launched later this year.
"The philosophy of the institute combines state-of-the-art developments in optical imaging technology with curiosity-driven research into cellular biology," said O'Shea. "The key problems facing us in the investigation of the cell arise from the need to extract more quantitative information from biological systems. As the technology required to obtain this information is simply not available its development and application provides one of the major scientific and technological challenges for the future."
IBIOS has been funded by grants from EPSRC, RCUK, the European Union, the Wellcome Trust, BBSRC, GlaxoSmithKline and Roche.
For more information, visit www.nottingham.ac.uk/ibios.