Superresolution Microscopy in a new light

In 2014, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to several scientists responsible for developing methods to break the resolution limits of optical microscopy. One technique pioneered by Dr. Eric Betzig, known as PALM microscopy, allows researchers to precisely measure the locations of single protein molecules within a cell, but unfortunately requires cells to be illuminated with such high light intensities that it can only be used reliably on fixed (dead) cells; living cells are often heavily damaged or even killed within minutes of observation using this technique.

In February 2017, Scintillon Institute Principal Investigator and Associate Professor Nathan Shaner, Ph.D. was awarded an R01 grant from the NIH's National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) for the development of genetically encoded tools to solve this problem.

In order to allow researchers to observe single molecules in living cells without damaging them, Dr. Shaner will use bioluminescence - biologically-generated light that does not produce heat - to enable PALM-type imaging of individual proteins.