Today: a $20 million microscope facility opens at Monash at 11 am.
A unique electron microscope launched today at Monash University, Melbourne, will transform the way we view the human immune system, and advance Australian research towards better treatment for diseases from cancer and malaria to diabetes, rheumatism and multiple sclerosis.
The FEI Titan Krios cryo-electron microscope is the centrepiece of the $20 million Clive and Vera Ramaciotti Centre for Structural Cryo Electron Microscopy. Standing 3m tall, weighing around a tonne, and with a powerful 300kV electron gun, it’s a true giant of a machine. More below.
On 6 February in PLoS Biology (6am AEDT) carnivorous mushrooms will reveal an intriguing secret that has implications for the human immune system. Embargoed release online at www.scienceinpublic.com.au. Call me for the password.
On 15 February in San Jose, California, we’re hosting our annual dinner for journalists attending the AAAS (Association for the Advancement of Science). Contact me if you’ll be there.
A titanic electron microscope that snap-freezes cells to reveal immune secrets
Launch of the $20 million Clive and Vera Ramaciotti Centre for Structural Cryo Electron Microscopy
Monash University, Melbourne – 11 am Monday 2 February 2015
With Prof Aidan Byrne, CEO of the Australian Research Council; Prof Edwina Cornish, Provost and Senior Vice-President, Monash University; and Caitriona Fay, National Manager Philanthropy, Perpetual.
A unique $5 million electron microscope launched today at Monash University, Melbourne, will transform the way we view the human immune system, and advance Australian research towards better treatment for diseases from cancer and malaria to diabetes, rheumatism and multiple sclerosis.
The FEI Titan Krios cryo-electron microscope is the centrepiece of the $20 million Clive and Vera Ramaciotti Centre for Structural Cryo Electron Microscopy. Standing 3m tall, weighing around a tonne, and with a powerful 300kV electron gun, it’s a true giant of a machine.
The Ramaciotti Centre and its new microscope are central to the work of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Advanced Molecular Imaging, of which Monash University is a lead partner.
“We want to transform our understanding of the human immune system,” says James Whisstock, the director of the Imaging Centre. “To achieve this, we need to be able to observe the molecular structures at the heart of immune response. Our immune system, and thus our health, is ultimately driven by the interactions of these large biological molecules. And those interactions depend on the 3D shapes and structures of the molecules involved.”
“The Titan Krios is powerful enough to resolve those intricate 3D shapes, identifying the position of individual atoms within a biological molecule and creating exquisitely detailed models including the molecules’ loops and side chains, James says. “It fills a gap, seeing things that X-ray crystallography and the Synchrotron can’t see. And Australian scientists have been queuing up to get time on Titans in Europe and America. Now they can do the job in Australia.
Projects that will use the Titan include studies of:
- a drug that can prevent the spread of the malaria, a disease that still infects hundreds of millions of people and causes more than 600,000 deaths a year—Dr Wilson Wong, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI)
- key molecules which help infective bacteria acquire resistance to front-line drugs—Prof Trevor Lithgow, Microbiology, Monash University
- mitochondria, fundamental research into the energy powerhouses of all cells—Prof Michael Ryan, Monash University
- insulin and its receptor, the key to diabetes—Assoc Prof Mike Lawrence, WEHI
- perforins, molecules that form pores in membranes of infected cells, as a precursor to their elimination—Prof James Whisstock, Imaging CoE, Monash University
- receptors that trigger the T cells of the immune system—Prof James McCluskey, The University of Melbourne and Prof Jamie Rossjohn, Imaging Centre, Monash University
- transcription, the first step in the process by which genetic material is transcribed by giant enzymes called polymerases—A/Prof Hans Elmlund and A/Prof Dominika Elmlund, Imaging Centre, Monash University.
The new microscope facility has been funded with support from the Ramaciotti Foundations, the Australian Research Council (ARC), Monash University, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI), La Trobe University and the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia.
Microscopy: the Imaging Centre is working with $2 microscopes—million dollar microscopes and ten-billion dollar microscopes; where does the Titan fit
Monash infrastructure: from crystals to the Titan, to walking through molecules—the tools that underpin life science research
- Niall Byrne, 0417 131 977, email@example.com
- Errol Hunt, 0423 139 210, firstname.lastname@example.org
Contacts for the Imaging Centre at www.imagingcoe.org
Contacts for research projects above can be provided
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