The Future of Optical Techniques in Biology
Our workshop entitled ‘The Future of Optical Techniques in Biology’ was held in the Senate Chamber of the University of Nottingham on Wednesday 12th September 2018. This event was intended to bring together scientists from various disciplines with a common interest in the application of optical techniques to biological questions. In keeping with this brief, the day was co-organised by Amanda Wright from the Faculty of Engineering and Claire Friel from the School of Life Sciences and our major funder was the EPSRC/BBSRC cross-council Physics of Life Network.
We had a great program of speakers including 6 ‘flash’ presentations from some of our poster presenters. Cementing the cross-disciplinary nature of the event, our two international speakers were sponsored by the Biochemical Society and the Institute of Physics. Erik Schäffer from the University of Tübingen showed us some data on the stepping motion of Kinesin-1 that is about to change the textbooks. Maria Dienerowitz (Universitätsklinikum Jena) described an extremely challenging vesicle trapping technique that increases the number of observable consecutive rotations of a single molecule of the F1-ATPase from 1 to more than 20. Other speakers came from throughout the UK. Philipp Kukura (University of Oxford) gave us a story of tenacity in the development of the label-free light microscopy technique iSCAT. Brian Patton (Strathclyde University) described how diamond is becoming a useful tool for in-cell fluorescence imaging. Oliver Castell (University of Cardiff) described a method to visualise single GPCR molecules in lipid membranes, Neil Kad (University of Kent) told us how he uses DNA tightropes and quantum dots to understand DNA repair, and Kurt Anderson (Crick Institute) described the challenge of imaging from the molecular to the organismal scale to better understand the progression of cancer.
Overall, we had a dynamic and stimulating day which broadened all our minds a little. The atmosphere of communication and exchange of ideas and knowledge was enhanced by the location. Talks, posters and sponsors stands were all co-located within the Senate Chamber which overlooks Highfields Lake. The sun even appeared, as ordered, and allowed discussion to spill out onto the terrace with the backdrop of one of the most wonderful views on the University of Nottingham campus.