HRH The Princess Royal opens new microscopy centre

A state-of-the-art centre for advanced biomedical research imaging was opened today (Tuesday) at UCL by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, giving researchers access to cutting-edge new microscopes from ZEISS.

The UCL Multiscale Imaging Centre, in partnership with ZEISS (to be known as UZMIC), is the first ZEISS laboratory in Europe outside of Germany, strengthening UCL’s connections across Europe.

UCL researchers will have exclusive access to new and emerging technologies, enabling seamless dynamic biomedical imaging across biological scales, from single molecule resolution to organelles, cells and tissues, moving from single samples to high throughput analysis.

The equipment will allow scientists to address fundamental questions in cell and developmental biology, while driving forward the search for treatments for conditions including infectious and inherited diseases, cancer and dementias.

Professor Franck Pichaud (MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology at UCL), academic lead of the Centre, commented: "My colleagues and I are excited by the possibilities offered by this collaboration as we continue to drive forward the vibrant field of imaging with cutting-edge technologies."

Researchers will be testing out powerful new microscopes before they’re released more broadly, giving them access to advanced technologies while giving ZEISS valuable insight that will feed into their development process.

"We’re thrilled to host this exciting new centre at UCL, to cater for the continuously evolving needs of life science and biomedical research. We look forward to welcoming scientists from other universities to the centre and help build connections with research groups from across Europe," said UCL President & Provost, Professor Michael Arthur.

At the launch event, hosted by Professor Arthur, The Princess toured the new laboratories and met with researchers, PhD students to senior academics, to hear about the wide range of scientific research they will be conducting at UZMIC.

The Princess is Chancellor of the University of London, of which UCL is a member institution.

Dr Vilaiwan Fernandes (UCL Cell & Developmental Biology) told The Princess about her research into glial cells in the developing brain, and how they are implicated in conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Down’s syndrome.

Dr Chintan Trivedi and Hanna Lemmik (both UCL Cell & Developmental Biology) demonstrated one of the new microscopes and discussed their work with Professor Steve Wilson. They are developing a high-resolution atlas of the zebrafish brain to map out genes and molecules that are shared with humans, including genes regulating stress hormones implicated in depression and anxiety.

Oliver Clarke, Head of Research Microscopy Solutions at ZEISS, said: "ZEISS is proud to be working with one of the world’s top academic institutions in the support of UZMIC. Collaborating with academic partners like UCL is essential for the development of advanced imaging technologies in the future."

UZMIC is managed by Dr Chris Thrasivoulou (UCL Cell & Developmental Biology), and the facilities are available for researchers from all faculties via UCL’s Science Technology Platforms.

The centre is adjacent to UCL’s High Content Biology Laboratory and the UCL Biosciences Electron Microscopy unit, which will help foster close collaboration and a culture of knowledge exchange and innovation. It will also be pivotal to training the next generation of scientists, as UZMIC will be central to new programmes of study*.


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