A new research Centre which will help Scottish scientists to investigate the causes of disease at molecular level is to be established at Heriot-Watt University, supported by a £2m grant from the Medical Research Council (MRC).
The Edinburgh Super Resolution Imaging Consortium (ESRIC), which will be run in partnership with the Institute of Genetic and Molecular Medicine (IGMM) at the University of Edinburgh, will involve high end equipment, very advanced microscopes which will be able to look at single molecules within live cells at a resolution of five nanometres. This will revolutionise the understanding of cell biology by examining directly the molecular workings of cells.
Professor Rory Duncan, Head of the Institute of Biological Chemistry, Biophysics and Bioengineering (IB3) at Heriot-Watt, said, "If we can understand how the molecules work within living cells then we can understand how the cells work. Every disease is the result of some dysfunction in the way that molecules work or interact within cells, and this is a way to understand the causes of disease at their most basic levels, and hopefully to working out how to prevent and cure those diseases.
"This is a unique and unparalleled UK resource, and one which we believe will help researchers to move to the next stage of understanding the causes and potential cure of a wide range of diseases by determining the fundamentals underlying them."
The new Consortium will provide equipment and training, technological support and research funding for this new field of study, which demands a new breed of biologists able to work at the interfaces with mathematics, physics and chemistry. This, says Professor Duncan, means that Heriot-Watt is ideally placed to host the new Centre.
"Heriot-Watt University is well known internationally for its work in the physical sciences and in 2010 established the Life Science Interface Laboratory (LSI) to promote and develop life science interfaces with mathematics, physics and chemistry. This highly successful activity led to the formation of IB3, a biology-led institute designed to accelerate the interactions between disciplines. This interdisciplinary approach means that Heriot-Watt has the academic strengths necessary to support the new facility and to drive its development."
Nick Hastie, Director of the Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine, said, "I could not be more excited about this new Imaging Centre which will take our science to a new dimension. This will provide unparalleled opportunities for the biomedical scientists in our Institute to benefit from interactions with the engineers, mathematicians and physicists at Heriot-Watt University."
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