Looking into our bodies with state-of-the-art equipment

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The University of Bristol is already world-famous for its biomedical research, but following a £2.3 million investment in newly refurbished labs, it will be able to advance techniques that look in even greater detail at what's going on in our bodies.

The Wolfson Bioimaging Facility at the University of Bristol was opened on Friday 20 July by Mr Paul Ramsbottom, the Executive Secretary of the Wolfson Foundation. The current investment has enabled state-of-the-art equipment and laboratories.

Ever since the invention of the microscope in the early 17th century, imaging has played a central role in our understanding of biology. For example, by using a range of different coloured 'tags' we can actually watch what happens in cells, as it is happening, helping us understand what goes wrong and the effects of drugs.

To see even more detail, scientists also use electron microscopes which enable very high magnifications, but not in real time. Researchers at Bristol University will continue to pioneer the use of all these approaches to generate new insights into topics such as wound healing, neuroscience, hearing, the infection of cells by bacteria, and the mechanisms of diseases such as cystic fibrosis and diabetes.

Professor Paul Martin, director of the new facility, explained how the new equipment will help with their research: "Our goal is to combine live images of cells with the tiniest details we can get from electron microscopes. This gives us the best opportunity for unravelling what underlies many diseases and the University is unique in trying to combine these two types of imaging".

In 1997, Professor Sir George Radda FRS opened the MRC Cell Imaging Facility in the School of Medical Sciences at Bristol. Over the past decade, this facility has established a reputation for being at the forefront of cutting-edge imaging technologies. The opening of the new Wolfson Bioimaging Facility will allow the continuation of this world-class research in cell biology, biochemistry and immunology.

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