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Florian Ströhl passes his viva!

last modified Feb 05, 2018 02:25 PM
Congratulations to Florian Ströhl who passed his PhD viva on Monday, 28 January. Florian's research
Florian Ströhl passes his viva!

Florian sporting his PhD Hat, featuring jokes and references to his research topics (e.g. frog eyes for his work on the Xenopus embryos!).

Congratulations to Florian Strohl for passing his viva! Florian's research involved both the development of software and hardware for structured illumination microscopy, and the application of Single Molecule Translation Imaging (SMTI) in retinal neuron development for xenopus embryos, among many other projects and contributions to the Laser Analytics Group. 

Florian will continue his career as a Post-doctoral researcher in the Dementia Research Institute (DRI), at the University of Cambridge.  

These are the publications Florian was involved in during his time in the group - truly outstanding work, well done Florian!


Ströhl F, Wong HHW, Holt CE, Kaminski CF, "Total internal reflection fluorescence anisotropy imaging microscopy: setup, calibration, and data processing for protein polymerization measurements in living cells"Methods Appl. Fluoresc. 6 (2018), 014004. PDF


Wong HH-W, Lin J Q, Ströhl F, Roque CG, Cioni J-M, Cagnetta R, Turner-Bridger B, Laine R F, Harris WH, Kaminski CF, Holt CE (2017). "RNA Docking and Local Translation Regulate Site-Specific Axon Remodeling In Vivo" Neuron 95 (4) 852-868. PDF

Ströhl F and Kaminski CF (2017). "Speed limits of structured illumination microscopy". Opt. Lett. (2017) 42(13), 2511-2514. PDF

Ströhl F, Lin JQ, Laine RF, Wong HH, Urbančič V, Cagnetta R, Holt CE, Kaminski CF, "Single Molecule Translation Imaging Visualizes the Dynamics of Local β-Actin Synthesis in Retinal Axons"Sci. Rep. (2017), 7, 709. PDF

Chen WY, Young LJ, Lu M, Zaccone A, Ströhl F, Yu N, Kaminski Schierle GS,  Kaminski CF, "Fluorescence self-quenching from reporter dyes informs on the structural properties of amyloid clusters formed in vitro and in cells"Nano Lett. (2017), 17(1), 143-149. PDF


Ströhl F, Kaminski CF, "Frontiers in structured illumination microscopy"Optica (2016), 3(6), 667-677. PDF

Young LJ, Ströhl F, Kaminski CF "A guide to structured illumination TIRF microscopy at high speed with multiple colors", JOVE (2016), (111), e53988. PDF


Stroehl F, Kaminski CF, "A Joint Richardson-Lucy Deconvolution Algorithm for the Reconstruction of Multifocal Structured Illumination Microscopy Data"Methods Appl. Fluoresc. (2015), 3 (1): 014002. PDF


LAG member wins department video competition

last modified Jan 14, 2018 09:57 PM
LAG member Marcus Fantham won the Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology department video competition in December with a short clip featuring the work inside the group.

Congratulations to Marcus Fantham, 3rd year PhD student in the Laser Analytics Group, for winning the Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology (CEB) department video competition with a clip featuring the work done in the Laser Analytics, Molecular Neuroscience, and Quantitative Imaging groups. The video showcases the workspaces in the new building (both the laser and the biology labs), day-to-day activities in the group, and some familiar faces! Well done Marcus!


The LAG, MNG, and QI have their annual Christmas Dinner

last modified Dec 08, 2017 05:10 PM
The LAG, MNG, and QI get together to celebrate the holidays at Murray Edwards College.
The LAG, MNG, and QI have their annual Christmas Dinner

The Happy LAG, MNG, and QI family!

The Laser Analytics, Molecular Neuroscience, and Quantitative Imaging groups were hosted by Murray Edwards College for their annual Christmas dinner. We had a secret Santa exchange during the dinner (presents range from mulled wine, a cookie jar, belgian chocolates, and even a giant pencil!) followed by tea, coffee, and mince pies. This was a fantastic chance for the group members to socialize with all the new students and post-docs - we're really happy to see a growing group this year! Major thanks to Maria Zacharopoulou, Sara Wagner-Valladolid, Chetan Poudel, and Lisa Hecker for organizing such a wonderful evening! 

Single molecule translation imaging

last modified Nov 15, 2017 12:45 PM
Single molecule translation imaging, SMTI, is a novel technique development by the Laser Analytics group to measure the rate and spatial distribution of protein synthesis [1,2]. Together with scientists form the Department of Physiology and Development of the University of Cambridge, we study the processes underlying neurodevelopment and the formation of neuronal networks in vivo.

 Image caption: The SMTI procedure in xenopus embyos. (a) A fusion construct between a protein of interest and the YFP Venus is (b) introduced into retinal ganglion cell. (c) The cells are dissected and cultured in a dish to study the effect of various chemicals, so-called guidance cues, on local translation in axon tips. (d) This is quantified via the SMTI procedure: segmentation, bleaching, and localisation. (e) Changes can be measured upon cue application even during SMTI acquisitions. Click on the picture for an enlarged version. 

The technique SMTI requires a single molecule sensitive microscope in combination with a fusion protein construct between a target protein of interest and the read-out fluorescent protein Venus. Venus is a yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) that is known for its extremely fast folding time, brightness, yet low photo-stability. The combination of these parameters makes it an excellent probe for SMTI. The fusion protein is introduced into a model system, xenopus leavis in our case, and renders the sample fluorescent. Using a short but intense light pulse the existing fluorescence is bleached, effectively providing a zero background system. At lower illumination powers a readout of newly translated protein can be generated resembling photoactivated localisation microscopy data sets.

The simplicity of the technique allows rapid progress on scientific questions and quantification of protein translation with unprecedented precision. The use of only a single fluorophore per event is a great advantage to alternative techniques, most prominently the SunTag approach that relies on multi-epitope tagging. There, a single newly translated protein must recruit up to 50 fluorescent proteins to provide sufficient signal-to-background ratios. This overloading also has the potential to invalidate the biological significance of produced results. Proper controls are hence paramount, but can be provided by SMTI as an orthogonal read-out.

We are constantly developing the SMTI technique itself further and are also starting to employ it in a much wider range of applications – from developmental biology to molecular changes during neurodegeneration.



[1] Ströhl F, Lin JQ, Laine RF, Wong HH, Urbančič V, Cagnetta R, Holt CE, Kaminski CF, "Single Molecule Translation Imaging Visualizes the Dynamics of Local β-Actin Synthesis in Retinal Axons"Sci. Rep. (2017), 7, 709.

[2] Wong HH-W, Lin J Q, Ströhl F, Roque CG, Cioni J-M, Cagnetta R, Turner-Bridger B, Laine R F, Harris WH, Kaminski CF, Holt CE (2017). "RNA Docking and Local Translation Regulate Site-Specific Axon Remodeling In Vivo" Neuron 95 (4) 852-868.

The LAG offers best wishes to Dr. Romain Laine on his next adventure

last modified Oct 30, 2017 11:13 AM
The LAG says farewell to Dr. Romain Laine as he moves to his new position as a research fellow in Ricardo Henriques' lab at University College London.
The LAG offers best wishes to Dr. Romain Laine on his next adventure

The Laser Analytics group enjoys a group dinner at The Punter, a pub in the north of Cambridge. Dr. Romain Laine is holding his cajon on the right side of the picture.

The LAG is most grateful for the absolutely fantastic work Dr. Romain Laine has done in the past 4 years as a post-doctoral researcher in the group. Romain was involved in numerous collaborations, published multiple high impact papers (see list below), and was a mentor and guide for many PhD students during this time in the group. Romain designed, built, and operated a series of microscopes in the lab, including a time-gated fluorescence lifetime microscope (TG-FLIM) and a TIRF( total internal reflection) microscope with dSTORM (stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy) capabilities. Romain was also involved in projects with structured illumination microscopy (SIM), machine learning, optical projection tomography, and time-correlated single photon counting (TCSPC). On top of the research work, Romain also organized the day-to-day running of the lab, organized practicals for project or master's students, and participated actively in the group's social and sports events. 

We had a group dinner at a local pub to wish him well in his next journey as a research fellow in Ricardo Henriques' group at University College London (UCL). Outside the lab, Romain enjoys teaching music for capoeira and is a percussionist himself, so the group gave him a cajon (box-shaped percussion instrument) as a farewell present so he can continue jamming in London.  Thank you for your outstanding work! We will miss you dearly!

Some of the publications Romain was involved in during his years in the group are highlighted below: 


Wong HH-W, Lin J Q, Ströhl F, Roque CG, Cioni J-M, Cagnetta R, Turner-Bridger B, Laine R F, Harris WH, Kaminski CF, Holt CE (2017). "RNA Docking and Local Translation Regulate Site-Specific Axon Remodeling In Vivo" Neuron 95 (4) 852-868. DOI

Ströhl F, Lin JQ, Laine RF, Wong HH, Urbančič V, Cagnetta R, Holt CE, Kaminski CF, "Single Molecule Translation Imaging Visualizes the Dynamics of Local β-Actin Synthesis in Retinal Axons"Sci. Rep. (2017), 7, 709. DOI

Nespovitaya N, Mahou P, Laine RF, Kaminski Schierle GS, Kaminski CF, "Heparin acts as a structural component of β-endorphin amyloid fibrils rather than a simple aggregation promoter"Chem. Commun. (2017), 53, 1273-1276. DOI


Laine RF, Kaminski Schierle GS, van de Linde S, Kaminski CF, "From single-molecule spectroscopy to super-resolution imaging of the neuron: a review"Methods Appl. Fluoresc. (2016), 4: 022004. DOI

Pinotsi D, Michel CH, Buell AK, Laine RF, Mahou P, Dobson CM, Kaminski CF, Kaminski Schierle GS, "Nanoscopic insights into seeding mechanisms and toxicity of α-synuclein species in neurons" PNAS, (2016), 113 (14), 3815-3819. DOI

Albecka A, Laine RF, Janssen AFJ, Kaminski CF, Crump CM, "HSV-1 glycoproteins are delivered to virus assembly sites through dynamin-dependent endocytosis", Traffic (2016), 17: 21-39. DOI


Manners I, Boott CE, Laine RF,  Mahou P,  Finnegan JR,  Leitao EM,  Webb SED,  Kaminski CF, "In situ visualization of block copolymer self-assembly in organic media by super-resolution fluorescence microscopy"Chem. Eur. J. (2015), 21:18539–18542. DOI

Chen WY, Avezov E, Schlachter SC, Gielen F, Laine RF, Harding HP, Hollfelder F, Ron D and Kaminski CF, "A Method to Quantify FRET Stoichiometry with Phasor Plot Analysis and Acceptor Lifetime In-growth," Biophys. J. (2015), 108 (5), 2015, pp. 999-1002. DOI

Avezov E, Konno T, Zyryanova A, Chen WY, Laine R, Crespillo-Casado A, Melo E P, Ushiodo R, Nagata K, Kaminski CF, Harding HP, "Retarded PDI diffusion and a reductive shift in poise of the calcium depleted endoplasmic reticulum", BMC Biology (2015), 13:2. DOI

Laine R F. Albecka A, van de Linde S, Rees EJ, Crump CM, Kaminski CF, "Structural analysis of herpes simplex virus by optical super-resolution imaging"Nature Comms. (2015), 6:5980. DOI


LAG and MNG members participate in the 2017 Chariots of Fire relay race

last modified Sep 18, 2017 05:44 PM
Laser Analytics Group members Nathan Curry and Pedro Vallejo Ramirez, along with Molecular Neuroscience Group members Amberley Stephens, Nadya Nespovitaya, Ajay Mishra, and Miranda Robbins participated in the annual Chariots of Fire relay race.
LAG and MNG members participate in the 2017 Chariots of Fire relay race

LAGers and MaNGoes participate in the annual Chariots of Fire charity race.

Laser Analytics Group members Nathan Curry and Pedro Vallejo Ramirez, along with Molecular Neuroscience Group members Amberley Stephens, Nadya Nespovitaya, Ajay Mishra, and Miranda Robbins participated in the annual Chariots of Fire relay race. This is a charity event held yearly since 1992 aimed at raising funds for different charitable organizations in the U.K.
The race course is 1.6 miles long and it crosses the city center, along with Trinity, King's, and Clare college. Our team finished in 1 hr 12.5 mins, resulting in 32nd place out of 215 mixed teams and 87th out of 333 overall. The team raised £260 to support a vital project at the University of Cambridge exploring why people with Down's syndrome develop Alzheimer's. If you'd like to donate, please follow the link: Special thanks to Amberley Stephens, Post-doctoral researcher in the MNG for organizing this team effort, way to go Amberley!


See our new lab!

last modified Oct 19, 2017 11:27 AM
Step inside the new LAG lab in West Cambridge with 360-degree photo spheres.



Visit to navigate around the lab Google-Streetview style.

Sporting success for Laser Analyticist Florian Ströhl

last modified Mar 10, 2017 11:01 AM
Sporting success for Laser Analyticist Florian Ströhl

Picture taken by Pedro Vallejo-Ramirez

Last weekend the handball varsity ​match took place ​between the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford​ ​at the University Sports Centre​,​ just across​ the​ road ​from the new department​ of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology​. 

The light blues, led by our own Florian Ströhl from the Laser Analytics group, dominated the match from the beginning and proved to be the stronger team in the end. 

Over a comfortable half-time score of 17-10, Cambridge beat Oxford in a hands-down victory with 38-26 and retained the varsity trophy in Cambridge. After a long celebration with LAG spectators, Florian, with a total of 11 goals, was later selected ​"​most valuable player​"​ by the Oxford team. 

​Florian is a 3rd year PhD student in the laser group and is currently working on the development of imaging techniques for the study of single molecule protein translation, and has published prolifically already on both theoretical and experimental topics of microscopy. Well done Florian!

FPBioimage - take a walk through your data

last modified Mar 30, 2017 10:34 PM
New paper published in Nature Photonics

Novel bioimaging techniques generate enormous amounts of data and making them accessible to the ​research ​community is becoming an increasingly complex task.  The problem is becoming even more acute with the now widespread expectation for open access reposition of data required by research councils and journals.   An even bigger challenge is ​data visualisation, which requires specialist skills and expensive software, unlikely to be available to those who did not perform the original research.

The Laser Analytics Group is at the forefront of developing modern imaging tools for bioresearch, and techniques such as SPIM and SIM can generate terabytes of volumetric imaging data in a single day.  In a new paper published in Nature Photonics, we present a new tool for sharing such data with researchers across the world. The tool is called FP Bioimage and presents a completely novel way for data sharing, even more excitingly, permits the viewer to interactively explore the dataset without requirement for specialist skills or software.  

Volumetric data to be shared is simply deposited on a local server, and can then be remotely accessed from anywhere using a standard web browser.  The tool permits interactive rotation, zooming, and rendering options, and is extremely fast and responsive to use. The software uses ray marching techniques and graphics engines now present in modern web browsers to give a first person perspective of imaging data,  giving an immersive experience and a fuller understanding of the data than would otherwise be possible.

Optionally the method can be used in a VR mode, using mobile phones and or a VR goggle set.

For examples and videos of the capabilities of the programme, see here:

If you have cool 3D volumetric data you want us to host - send an email to Marcus Fantham


We are moving!

last modified Feb 10, 2017 09:24 AM


Powered by flickr embed.

The Laser Analytics Group is in the process of moving to brand new laboratories in the Department of Chemical Engineering's new building on the West Cambridge Site of the University. The lab features state-of-the-art laminar flow climate control and vibration isolation equipment and will be situated in immediate adjacency to the laboratories of the Molecular Neuroscience group.  In combination, this will permit world leading research to be performed to unravel molecular mechanisms of disease, bringing physicists and biologists together in a dedicated new space with world leading research infrastructure.

The image shows our brand new air-floating optical tables which will enhance our capability of recording images at optical superresolution.  Before we are back in business again we have to complete the small task of rebuilding our custom built microscopy platforms, some of which had taken years to develop and put into operation.  The laboratory features all optical techniques of use for live cell biology research including structured illumination, STED, STORM, correlative light and AFM microscopy, selective plane illumination microscopy, fluorescence lifetime imaging, multiphoton microscopy, etc.  

Heroic members of the group have been extraordinarily busy dismantling, cleaning, wrapping, packing, shifting and stacking tons of equipment. The pictures give an impression of their gargantuan efforts. 

Exciting times, and a major boost to our research capability!

Dr Laurie Young

last modified Feb 07, 2017 05:34 PM
Laurie Young passes PhD viva with flying colours

Congratulations to Laurie Young who passed his PhD viva today with flying colours! Laurie spent half of his PhD building a world-class optical super resolution microscope that permits sub-wavelength resolution imaging at video rate speeds and the other half applying the microscope in research to understand the physics of templated seeding reactions of amyloid proteins, the processes that cause toxic protein deposits to be formed in the brains of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's patients.

His external examiner, Prof. Mezzenga, said after the viva: "I am very impressed how Laurie succeeded both in setting up state-of-the-art microscopy technology and to perform top notch biophysical research - both efforts were of the highest quality."

Here you see Laurie branding his new Dr hat, designed by fellow Laser Analyticists Lisa Hecker and Nadya Nespovitaya, featuring elements that came to define Laurie's PhD life: Bicycles, Greek islands, art, laser goggles, and aspirin to keep scientifically sober. 

Laurie has been poached by a young start up company, keen to steal his talents for commercial success - we wish him luck and happiness.

Many congratulations from all of us - Laurie will be dearly missed.

Laser Analytics Group Christmas Dinner 2016

last modified Feb 06, 2017 02:33 PM
The LAG takes over the Blue Lion Pub in Hardwick for the annual group christmas dinner!
Laser Analytics Group Christmas Dinner 2016

From left to right: Weiyue Chen, Clemens Kaminski, Chris Rowlands, Nathan Curry, Marcus Fantham, Pedro Vallejo Ramirez, Eric Rees, Laurie Young, Gabi Kaminski Schierle, and Amberley Stephens.

Special thanks to Oliver Vanderpoorten, one of our new members for organizing this most wonderful evening. We celebrated the end of a fantastic year of research and good news for our research group. The dinner featured a delicious display of typical English christmas turkey with all the trimmings -- and most certainly, Christmas crackers with paper crowns and jokes were included! This occasion also served to celebrate the recent doctoral thesis defense of Weiyue Chen, who performed some exemplary work on functional imaging of protein-protein interactions. Congrats Weiyue and good luck in all your future endeavors!





Group Formal Hall at Robinson College - Michaelmas 2016

last modified Feb 06, 2017 02:30 PM
The Laser Analytics Group enjoys a delicious formal dinner at Robinson College!
Group Formal Hall at Robinson College - Michaelmas 2016

The LAG enjoying some post-dinner coffee and thin mints.

Traditionally, new members in the LAG will organize a formal hall dinner in their college during their first term to socialize with group members outside the lab and the office. The venue was most appropriate, as Robinson College has a strong representation within the LAG! Our group leader Clemens Kaminski is a fellow at the college, and group members Romain F. Laine, Florian Stroehl, Miranda Robbins, Amanda Haack, and Pedro Vallejo Ramirez are members of the college MCR. The dinner was followed by wine and port at the college bar; we had a wonderful evening sharing stories of our favorite books, movies, and our future plans and aspirations. 

Sensors Day 2016

last modified Feb 06, 2017 02:29 PM
Highlights on exciting sensors research and applications and the capstone project of the 2016 Sensors CDT cohort.
Sensors Day 2016

Dr. Romain Laine reading the program before the opening plenary session.

With talks covering topics from optical manipulation in optofluidic waveguides, to monitoring temperatures in the Erebus volcano in Antarctica, Sensors Day 2016 was a most exciting conference for students and industry representatives to learn about various cutting-edge sensor technologies. The conference was organized by the management board of the Sensor Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) including our group leader Dr.Clemens Kaminski (Director of the Sensor CDT), and Laser Analytics Group (LAG) senior member Dr. Oliver Hadeler (Programme Manager for sensor CDT). The Laser Analytics Group made a strong presence featuring posters by Marcus Fantham, Nathan Curry, and Florian Stroehl. 

The Sensor CDT 2016 cohort presented a low-cost, open-source Optical Projection Tomography system as the culmination of their summer research work. A combination of skills in optics, software development, electronics, mechanical design, and biological sample preparation resulted in a working system to generate 3D data of transparent biological samples. The cohort included LAG members Oliver Vanderpoorten, Gemma Goodfellow, and Miranda Robbins. Well done team!

To learn more about the program, the topics covered, and the Sensor CDT team challenge, please visit the Sensors Day 2016 website

Research from Laurie Young used in new artwork

last modified Oct 04, 2016 04:30 PM
Imagery of living cells from super-resolution microscopy features in video art piece

'Breaking Boundaries' Soundtrack and Projections- Passion for Knowledge, Festival San Sebastian from Diana Scarborough on Vimeo.


Research from Laurie Young of the Laser Analytics Group forms part of "Breaking Boundaries", a new artwork produced by Cambridge-based artists Diana Scarborough and Melissa Murray which was recently performed at the opening ceremony of the Passion for Knowledge 2016 festival in San Sebastian [1]. The video art piece is an interpretation of phenomena occurring in the nano world and uses imagery produced from super-resolution microscopy images of the endoplasmic reticulum, lysosome vesicles and protein aggregates forming in living cells.

The collaboration between Laurie and Diana begun as part of an interdisciplinary exchange between the often divergent worlds of art and science. The Nano^Art project [2] brought together groups of established local artists and emerging scientists to engage in a series of lab and studio interchanges to explore questions on perception, scale, transformation and self-assembly.


Super-Resolution Microscopy on Cambridge TV

last modified Aug 17, 2016 02:24 PM
What if we could watch biological molecules at work?


Cambridge TV’s weekly science show, Elemental Ideas, features a programme on Super-Resolution Microscopy.  Researchers from the Laser Analytics Group and the Molecular Neuroscience Group explain how they are working together to develop this optical technique to answer new questions in biology.  By using physical tricks to defy the diffraction limit of light, fresh insights into neurodegenerative diseases are being uncovered.


Contact details

Prof. Clemens Kaminski, Head of Laser Analytics Group
Dr Gabriele Kaminski Schierle, Head of Molecular Neuroscience Group

Florian Ströhl wins best poster prize at British Biophysical Society Meeting 2016

last modified Jul 12, 2016 05:11 PM
During a successful visit to the British Biophysical Society Meeting 2016, group members presented their work, with Florian Ströhl's poster on single molecule translation imaging being awarded the best poster prize.

The British Biophysical Society Meeting is a key date in the calendars of biophysicists working in the UK, with 2016's conference being held at the University of Liverpool. PhD student Florian Ströhl's work on single molecule translation imaging, in collaboration with researchers from the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, was presented as a poster and awarded the British Biophysical Society's Best Poster prize.

The BBS is the second-oldest biophysical society in the world, with its biennial meeting attracting key players from research and industry from all over the world.

Pint of Science festival: Probing the machinery of life at high resolution

last modified Jul 04, 2016 03:29 PM
The work of the Laser Analytics Group was recently presented at the Pint of Science festival.

The Pint of Science festival provides a platform for local scientists to talk about their work to the public and took place around pubs in Cambridge between the 23rd and 25th of May 2016. The idea was born by research scientists in 2012 and has become a global phenomenon, with the aim to provide an unintimidating and informal atmosphere for the public to engage with cutting edge science.

At this year’s festival in Cambridge, scientists were paired up with local artists, who created artworks related to the subject matter of the talks. Prof. Kaminski gave a talk entitled “Watching the machinery of life at high resolution” and presented images of brain cells caught in the act of fighting toxic protein species that cause diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. The latter provided the topic for artist Tony White, who produced a series of prints encapsulating the cellular processes occurring in Alzheimer’s disease, the subject of much of the research going on in the Laser Analytics Group.

Interalia Magazine Piece on Micro-Choreography

last modified Sep 26, 2016 08:17 PM
Two students from the Laser Analytics group were recently featured in the Micro-choreography issue of Interalia Magazine.

Two students from the Laser Analytics group were recently featured in the Micro-choreography issue of Interalia Magazine.

"The aim of the “Micro-choreography” issue is to highlight examples where aesthetic practice draws inspiration from the molecular sciences and ways in which science uses aesthetics to create representations of nature which are invisible to our eyes - e.g., the dynamical realm of molecules, atoms, and electrons." 


A static representation of fluorescent nano-beads tumbling and diffusing through the focal plane of my light sheet microscope. Each frame of the video was colour coded and the video was then summed to create this single image by Craig Russell

A static representation of fluorescent nano-beads tumbling and diffusing through the focal plane of my light sheet microscope. Each frame of the video was colour coded and the video was then summed to create this single image by Craig Russell








The synthesis from RNA to molecule of individual beta-actin proteins in real time inside the axon of a developing neuron. Each colour represents hereby a different time-point during acquisition by Florian Stroehl

The synthesis from RNA to molecule of individual beta-actin proteins in real time inside the axon of a developing neuron. Each colour represents hereby a different time-point during acquisition by Florian Stroehl


Major new insights into ALS and other amyloid diseases.

last modified Nov 05, 2015 05:45 PM
Research by the Laser Analytics Group recently published in the Journal Neuron contributes major new insights into the molecular pathology of motor neurone disease (also called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS) and related neurogenerative disesases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

In work published in the Journal Neuron we used a technique called single particle tracking and fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy we were able to track the aggregation state of a protein called FUS inside cell models of disease.  FUS is strongly associated with the pathology of motor neurone disease but appears to have an important function also in normal, healthy cells.  Intriguingly our research, and that of others, show that the protein can form so called ‘hydrogels’, soft jelly like structures, that consist mostly of water, rather like the Jello Cubes shown in the picture above (image credit Steven Depolo).  

These hydrogels seem to be made up of strings of FUS protein, daisy chained into structures that are called ‘protein amyloids’. Amyloids are aggregates of proteins that are most often associated with diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.  Usually amyloid formation is irreversible: Once a protein clumps into aggregates, this process is irreversible (leading for example to the formation of the tell tale plaques in brains suffering from Alzheimer’s disease).  FUS seems to be an amyloid with an important difference: It is capable of forming amyloids reversibly inside cells, it’s akin to jello cubes turning back and forth between liquid and gel states, which occurs for example through a cycling of temperature.

In normal cells this reversible aggregation behavior of FUS may have important physiological functions: For example, the hydrogels formed when aggregated may act as a cargo vehicles to carry molecules throughout the cell.  Once the cargo arrives at the correct location in the cell, the hydrogels dissolve, releasing their cargo.   

In ALS linked mutations of of FUS we found that aggregates cannot be ‘undone’ so that FUS behaves more like classical amyloids as found for example in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases and this in turn may elicit the toxic response in cells observed in ALS. We were able to show that the rheology of FUS gels changes markedly in certain mutational variants of the proteins, and that gel dissolution was impossible in the mutations of FUS that have in previous work been associated with ALS. This may mean that reversible gel formation is an essential feature for cellular housekeeping functions. 

We used a technique called single molecule particle tracking to show that molecular transport through FUS gels is significantly affected in the ALS mutants of FUS. The technique is capable of tracking the position and motion of individual molecules through the gels to a few billionths of a metre and thus to quantify the ‘leakiness’ of the gels for a range of conditions.  We used fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy on the other hand to track the aggregation state of FUS directly in cell models of disease, using a sensor concept for amyloid aggregation developed in our group.

The research is part of a large collaboration of research groups from the medical, biological, and physical sciences, led by Prof. Peter St. George-Hyslop.

For more information on this research see the University Press Release.

See also

Relevant papers:

ALS/FTD Mutation-Induced Phase Transition of FUS Liquid Droplets and Reversible Hydrogels into Irreversible Hydrogels Impairs RNP Granule Function

Direct Observation of Heterogeneous Amyloid Fibril Growth Kinetics via Two-Color Super-Resolution Microscopy

A FRET sensor for non-invasive imaging of amyloid formation in vivo

Group members involved:

Dr. Gabriele Kaminski Schierle

Dr. Eric Rees

Dr. Claire Michel

Prof. Clemens Kaminski

Research Collaboration launched with Chinese health firm

last modified Sep 04, 2015 01:31 PM
The department of Chemical engineering was awarded a major research contract and a donation from Chinese Health company Infinitus. The event was recognised through a signing ceremony with the University's Vice Chancellor on Wednesday the 3rd of September. The deal is worth more than GBP4.0M and includes a very significant donation towards the construction of the department's new building on the University's West Site.
The money will go to establish CIRCE (the Cambridge Infinitus Research Centre) with the aim of analysing the biological activity of polypeptides and polysaccharides derived from plants and fungi.  25% of all modern medicines are derivatives of natural products and a major driver for research in CIRCE will be molecular regulators of protein homeostasis in cell and organism models that offer potential strategies in the treatment of diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.  

Prof. Kaminski says: "I am absolutely thrilled to think of the opportunities that CIRCE will bring to us and our department.  We are ideally placed  in our new building to tackle some of the very challenging problems that come with research on the molecular origins of devastating diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.   Infinitus is a world leading biotechnology company and I have been greatly impressed with their vision and enthusiasm to drive this exciting new venture forward."


Press release

Superresolution revolution

Post Doctoral Research Position Available

last modified Aug 11, 2015 09:13 PM
STED microscopy development for research into molecular mechanisms of disease.
Post Doctoral Research Position Available

Superresolution imaging of polyglutamine aggresomes in neurones, credit Meng Lu

We are looking for a motivated PDRA to be in charge of the recently developed STED super-resolution microscope in the Laser Analytics Group. 

The research programme will require the further development of the current STED microscope to permit simultaneous two-colour imaging, and the development of STED-FCS (Fluorescence correlation spectroscopy).

 The candidate will have a PhD in Physics, Engineering, Biophysics, or a similar discipline with a proven track record in optical microscopy development and application, ideally with experience in STED or other super-resolution methods, and with ample knowledge in optical system development.

Read the full job listing here

Most read articles in Methods and Applications in Fluorescence

last modified Aug 03, 2015 01:11 PM
The recent development by the group of a novel reconstruction algorithm for M-SIM features in the top 3 most read papers in the IOP publication Methods and Applications in Fluorescence.

Florian Ströhl's development of a new deconvolution algorithm for M-SIM based upon the joint Richardson-Lucy algorithm has been downloaded nearly 1000 times since publication, making it the third most viewed article in the journal.

The algorithm, available to download free here, is a  treats the problem like a widefield imaging technique and is more efficient and less prone to artefacts than conventional algorithms that treat mSIM like a parallelised version of confocal microscopy.

The video abstract for this paper has been viewed over 60 times on the journals website and over 90 times on youtube.

Video Abstract


Gabi Kaminski Schierle appointed as Lecturer in Molecular Biotechnology

last modified Jun 29, 2015 06:08 PM
Gabi Kaminski Schierle, who heads biological research activities in the Laser Analytics Group, has been appointed as Lecturer in Molecular Biotechnology at this department - many congratulations!

Gabi heads molecular biology activities in the group and a team of currently 11 people.  She has build up a comprehensive research portfolio in the neurosciences, and applies a whole range of  biophysical techniques in her research to unravel molecular mechanisms of neurodegeneration during Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Diseases. She started her career with a degree in Biology at the Université de Fribourg, Switzerland, before embarking on a PhD in medical research at the Wallenberg Neuroscience Centre, at the University of Lund, in Sweden.

In Sweden, Gabi developed a new method to improve the survival rate of dopaminergic neurones transplanted into patients suffering from Parkinson's disease, which was at the time  used as  a successful clinical therapy for symptomatic relief from motor  disorders.  This research won her several international prizes, including a Science Parkinson's Disease Foundation science award. 

She came to Cambridge as Marie Curie Fellow, and gained a Wellcome Trust early career award to begin research into strategies for molecular therapies against Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, the focus of her current research.  She introduced the use of  high resolution imaging methods into the  field and pioneered the use of high resolution microscopy to probe protein misfolding reactions.

Gabi acts as a role model in combining family life with an active scientific career.   We are delighted at this recognition of her excellence in research and look forward to many exciting future discoveries!

Nathan Curry wins poster prize at Graduate Conference

last modified May 14, 2015 11:29 PM
Four group members presented work from their PhD at the annual Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology Department Graduate Conference. This included talks from two group members and a prize winning poster from Nathan Curry
Nathan Curry wins poster prize at Graduate Conference

Nathan (left) receiving his prize

The Graduate Conference is an opportunity for PhD students to present their work to the rest of the department and external visitors. Third year PhD students Weiyue Chen and Laurie Young presented their work to a keen audience on the first and second day of the conference. Meanwhile second years, Nathan Curry and Na Yu, presented posters. Both the talks and posters were well received.

Nathan Curry's poster on the investigation of dendritic spines using STED nanoscopy was awarded one of three poster prizes. Congratulations to him!

Following on from the graduate conference first year students Ashley Fidler and Craig Russell will present their work as part of the first year seminar series. 

2015 is the International Year of Light

last modified May 01, 2015 10:06 AM
The International Year of Light celebrates a millennium of advancements in optical science and technology and recognises the importance of light technologies in the lives of each and every one of us

Since the invention of the laser in the late 60s, remarkable developments have taken place in the science and technology of light.  Optics and photonics have completely transformed the way we live today, and light transmits signals across the globe at the fastest possible speeds, and new technology developments have revolutionised the way we display and receive information and communicate.  Many of the greatest scientific advancements continue to be made through use of optical technologies. 

The United Nations declared 2015 as the International Year of Light and the aim of the IYOL15 initiative is to demonstrate the importance of optical technologies to modern life. This behemoth international effort, comprising over 100 partners from 85 countries, hopes to expose light technology to the world and give clarity to the people on how vital the technologies are. Interactive events are planned all year and globally that demonstrate optical technologies and their importance for today, tomorrow and for society. Key topics these events exhibit are; energy creation for mechanisms such as solar power and laser fusion; light in the built environment; telecommunications' dependency on fibre optic technologies; life science optics; optics for security and much more.

The Laser Analytics Group is very much a part of this. We use light to research molecular mechanisms of common diseases such as dementia, infectious disease, or cancer.  Optical technologies we have developed in the past inform on the processes that cause pollutants to be formed and help in the design of more fuel efficient engines.  Sensors built by the group enable individual molecules to be detected for medical diagnosis or in research. 

Group PhD students Laurie Young and Nathan Curry have sought to raise public interest in light and optics by organising a demonstration at the 2015 Cambridge Science festival.

The International Year of Light celebrates the anniversary of major scientific events in optics including:

  • 1015: Ibn Al-Haytham’s Book of Optics.
  • 1815: Fresnel’s light wave propagation postulate.
  • 1865: Maxwell’s Electromagnetic theory of light propagation.
  • 1915: Einstein’s theory of the photoelectric effect in 1905 and the role of light in general relativity.
  • 1965: Penzias and Wilson’ discovery of the cosmic microwave background.
  • 1965: Charles Kao’s transmission of light in fibres for optical communication.

The programme of events in the International Year of Light is available here.

The Founding Scientific Sponsors of IYL2015 are:

Click here for Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon’s message at the opening ceremony of the International year of Light in Paris.

Superresolution imaging of neurodegeneration - Video

last modified Mar 03, 2015 12:12 PM
Recent advances in optical microscopy permit researchers to investigate the molecular processes that lead to diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's Disease in much greater detail than has been possible only a few years ago.

Research conducted in the Group, marries molecular biotechnology techniques with research on novel imaging technologies and this has led to pioneering discoveries in the field of Alzheimer's and other diseases.

In this video Prof. Clemens Kaminski speaks to Cambridge Research Horizons on how superresolution methods developed in this Group can be used in the study of  Alzheimer's Disease.  

More details on the interview and optical super-resolution activities in the University are also available from a recent article.

Contact details

Dr. Gabi Kaminski Schierle (Molecular Biology of Neurodegeneration)
Prof. Clemens Kaminski (Superresolution Microscopy)


New Paper and Video on SIM Processing

last modified Feb 17, 2015 09:44 PM
Watch Florian Ströhl, PhD student in the Laser Analytics group, talk about his latest research in which he outlines the advantages of a new deconvolution algorithm he developed, to analyse multi-spot Structured Illumination Microscopy (mSIM) data.

Florian is a first year PhD student in the group, having obtained his M.Sc. in Optical Engineering at the FAU University in Erlangen, Germany. His algorithm has been published in the most recent issue of Methods in Applied Fluorescence. The algorithm treats the problem like a widefield imaging technique and is more efficient and less prone to artefacts than conventional algorithms that treat mSIM like a parallelised version of confocal microscopy.

Florian is currently focusing on novel algorithms to improve the speed and resolution of optical nanoscopy techniques, in particular variants of structured illumination microscopy.

Video Abstract


Prof. Clemens Kaminski elected Fellow of the Optical Society of America

last modified Jun 29, 2015 04:58 PM
Prof. Clemens Kaminski was elected as a Fellow of the Optical Society of America (OSA) in recognition of "pioneering work in the development of optical methods for quantifying the kinetics of reactions in chemical and biological systems".

Prof. Kaminski started his career developing optical imaging techniques for the study of thermochemistry in turbulent combustion systems and he developed a method that permits researchers to  'film' the progress of fast exothermic reactions in real time.  The method is now routinely used by researchers for the study of flow turbulence and its effect on combustion efficiency and pollutant formation and has become a routine tool in research for next generation clean combustion concepts. 

Over recent years his group has changed research direction and begun to adapt such methods for the study of chemical reactions on the microscale.  Together with his wife Gabi Kaminski, a neurobiologist, he now leads a team of researchers focusing on the development and application of modern imaging techniques in the study of molecular mechanisms of diseases.  A major effort is directed at understanding the processes that cause proteins to misfold and aggregate and that lie at the root of diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

He says: "I am grateful and privileged to work with such an exceptionally talented and motivated research team - it's their hard work and achievement that is being recognised.  It's an exciting time for photonics research and we are only beginning to unleash its potential to study chemical phenomena at the molecular scale".

The Optical Society of America is the world's leading professional organisation in optics and photonics, with more than 18000 members world wide.  Every year the OSA proposes ca 70 Members world wide who have served with distinction in the advancement of optics and photonics to be elected into the class of Fellow.  


Application round open for Sensor CDT

last modified Nov 24, 2014 12:17 PM
Become a sensor Champion and apply for a fully funded studentship within the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Sensor Technologies and Applications

Up to 10 fully funded studentships are available for eligible students to enter into the Sensor Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT).  Full details of the application procedure and the CDT in general are available here.

The CDT is open to students with a variety of backgrounds. The first cohort of students is now fully immersed in the programme and currently perform a group research project, building a fully working biomedical sensor from concept to application.  Do you have what it takes to be a Sensor Champion? 

Find out more about the programme and apply now into this prestigious and competitive programme.