Prize And Awards
The optical microscope is so important to biomedicine that it is used as an icon to symbolise all science, but in the age of lasers, computers, digital detectors and new photochemistry the basic design of this classic tool of research can be greatly improved. My research involves the development of new optical instruments and technologies for cell and tissue imaging: this includes linear and nonlinear optics, new light sources, and new ways of preparing the specimen for imaging that reveals more structural information than the light microscope can normally provide.
An example of my interests is the Mesolens, where we have redesigned the microscope so that internal details of every cell of the millions present in a biological specimen of more than 100 cubic millimeters in volume can be seen. Our microscope does not use an eyepiece for recording, since the image exceeds the power of the human eye to perceive detail: our image datasets from a volume specimen are typically hundreds of gigabytes in size. We specified the novel optics for screening transgenic mouse embryos to discover human genes that might produce congenital abnormalities, such as vascular disease, which affects approximately one in two hundred human births. However, we are now finding applications throughout bioscience, e.g. in neuroscience and developmental studies. At the Strathclyde Mesolab, a newly created MRC-supported facility, we are working with life, physical and computer scientists worldwide to explore applications of our current technology and to develop new mesoscopic imaging modes that will provide a new insight into development and disease.