skip to primary navigationskip to content


Site News

Malaria research featured on University front page

last modified Jul 03, 2013 11:26 AM
Using advanced microscopy techniques developed in the Laser Analytics group and in the department of Physics, it has become possible to follow in detail how individual blood cells become infected by the plasmodium falciparum parasite, the most deadly form of malaria.
Malaria research featured on University front page

Malaria Cycle

The research sheds new light on the way the parasite 'hijacks' the host cells internal machinery and the curious strategies adopted to ensure the parasite and host cell survive their violent relationship during the infection cycle. For the first time we have been able to understand the mechanisms that lead to dramatic shape changes that occur in the attacked cells upon infection due to osmotically driven ingress of nutrients the parasite requires to grow. This work lead to the verification of what is known in the literature as the 'colloidosmotic hypothesis' in malaria. Even more fascinating to watch is what happens during the very early stages of parasite contact with the host cell: Immediately on contact the cell undergoes violent, dynamic shape changes, which a new video microscopy technique developed in the physics department resolves in much greater detail than has been possible before. 

The collaboration was recently featured on the University’s news site and was on the cover of Cambridge University’s Resarch Horizon’s

For publications on our malaria research see our publication section

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


New MRC grant for next generation light microscopy development

last modified Jul 02, 2013 04:05 PM
Profs. Kaminski, Harris (PDN), Klenerman (Physics) and Laue (Biochemistry) received a major award through from the Next Generation Light Microscopy Initiative Programme of the Medical Research Council.
New MRC grant for next generation light microscopy development

Medical Research Council


The aim of the programme is to establish national centers of excellence in microscopy research and to make available to life scientists the latest technological advances in biological imaging.  As part of the 1.9M programme, the Laser Analytics Group will develop novel modalities of STED (Stimulated Emission Depletion) microscopy with the inventors or STED, Prof. Stefan Hell’s group in Göttingen and apply these techniques to problems in neurodegeneration. The grant is a major boost to the Cambridge Advanced Imaging Centre (CAIC) initiative where technologies developed will be made available for use across the university. 

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


News prior to 2013

last modified Jul 03, 2013 11:41 AM
A selection of our group's news prior to 2013.


February 2011

Theodor Förster 100th Anniversary Issue published by ChemPhysChem


A special issue in memory of Theodor Förster was published by ChemPhysChem, edited by Clemens Kaminski, Erich Sackmann, and Klaus Schulten. Förster would have been 100 this year and the issue is in celebration of his outstanding achievements in photophysics and photochemistry, featuring reviews and research articles by world leading scientists in the field. More than 60 years ago Förster formalized the theory of non radiative energy transfer, today known as Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET), a process that is ubiquitous in nature. Today FRET is revolutionising modern biology offering one of the most powerful methods by which information on biomolecular structure and interactions can be gained from living biological systems. Link to Chem Phys Chem

October 2010

IChemE Awards


The IChemE awards recognise and reward chemical engineering innovation and excellence. Now in their 17th year, they celebrate both individual and team achievement. Ssegawa-Ssekintu Kiwanuka of the Laser Analytics group was the youngest ever nominee in the history of the awards at 23, and gained 3rd place in the young engineer of the year category. The award recognises individuals under the age of 30 who demonstrate achievements and tangible application of chemical, biochemical and/or process engineering skills to address important economic, environmental or social issues. Department News

February 2011

Cambridge Advanced Imaging Centre

CAIC small

Prof. Bill Harris (PDN), Dr. Richard Adams (PDN), Dr. C. Kaminski, Prof. D. Klenermann (Chemistry) and J. Skepper (PDN) have together won financial support from the Wolfson Foundation to initiate the Cambridge Advanced Imaging Centre (CAIC) at the University of Cambridge. 
The Cambridge Advanced Imaging Centre is a visionary initiative to promote multidisciplinary working across the University on the application of advanced imaging technology to biology. Physicists will collaborate with biologists to build a new generation of microscopes to solve critical issues in cell biology, develop a state-of-the-art service facility for use by the entire University of Cambridge community, and train a new generation of interdisciplinary scientists. 
The development of CAIC will enable the University to create a sustainable resource for research and training, and position it at the forefront of microscopy internationally. Refurbishment of the necessary space is being supported by a £1M award from the Wolfson Foundation and a £3.6 million comittment from the University. 
Link to Cambridge Advanced Imaging Centre


November 2009

GBP 5M award for Alzheimer's disease research


The Laser Analytics Group is part of a major research initiative led by Prof. St George-Hyslop from the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research to investigate the molecular mechanisms leading to Alzheimer's, a debilitating and lethal disease, affecting more than 450000 people in the UK alone. The initiative was recognised by the award of a 5 year Wellcome Trust / MRC strategic award worth more than GBP 5M. At the heart of Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases lies the dysfunction of normally harmless proteins occurring naturally in the brain so that they form toxic aggregates, which cause cells to malfunction and ultimately die. The laser group has developed a novel microscopy method which will play an important role in this research because it allows for the first time the formation of such toxic aggregates to be measured in living species. The research will be conducted in strong collaboration with groups across the university of Cambridge and involve chemists, physicists, engineers, medics and biologists.

Press Release 
Wellcome Trust/ MRC Neurodegeneration Initiative

December 2009

Launch of new website for CamBridgeSens

The web site of CamBridgeSens operated and managed by members of the Laser Analytics Group has been extensively redesigned to provide better access to, and easier navigation within, the available information on the pages and to cater for the rapid expansion that the CamBridgeSens network is currently experiencing. In the only 16 months since its inception, the network has grown its membership to over 380 researchers from more than 10 university departments. More than 50 members represent participation of local and national companies, keen to strengthen ties with the University of Cambridge.

More info 
CamBridgeSens website 

January 2009

Special Journal Issue on Quantitative Fluorescence Microscopy

foerster small

A themed issue on quantitative fluorescence microscopy is published in February by the Royal Society Interface Journal. The issue is dedicated in its entirety to the first International Theodor Foerster lecture series organised by the Laser Analytics group and features review and original articles by some of the world's foremost microscopists. All articles are free to download and more information is found under: Quantitative Fluorescence Microscopy Issue

January 2009

Most Cited Paper in Combustion and Flame

C&F Award small

The Laser Analytics group won the most cited Author 2005-2008 award for the paper entitled "Experimental Investigation of the nonlinear response of turbulent premixed flames to imposed inlet velocity fluctuation", Comb. Flame, Vol 143, Issue 1-2 (2005), Pages 37-55. The work is a collaborative effort within the University gas partnership and was co-authored with the groups of Prof. Ann Dowling and Dr. A. Mastorakos at the department of Engineering, Cambridge. The full paper can be downloaded from: Nonlinear Flame Response paper

October 2008 CamBridgeSens workshop
Recent Trends in Optical Trace Sensing

The workshop focuses on recent advances in optical trace sensing. This event will bring together academics and students of Cambridge to discuss the latest developments in gas and liguid phase sensing. We have the pleasure to hear talks from four invited speakers covering topics such as expanding the wavelength coverage of supercontinuum light sources, spectral broadband sensing in the gas and liquid phase using lasers, LEDs and supercontinuum sources. The workshop is hosted by the Laser Analytics Group and will be arranged in Emmanuel College, Cambridge, on 11th November 2008. For more details and booking see: CamBridgeSens

November 2008

Our research featured in Nature Photonics Research Highlights

Nature photonics

Recent research from the Laser Analytics Group featured in the Research Highlights section of the September issue of Nature Photonics. In a collaboration with the Atmospheric Sensing group of the Department of Chemistry in Cambridge we have developed a broadband trace gas detection scheme based on cavity enhanced absorption spectroscopy (CEAS) and a supercontinuum (SC) light source. It is capable of recording spectra covering over 100 nm in the visible spectral range, encompassing multiple absorption bands of NO2, NO3, H2O, O2 and O2-O2 (oxygen dimer). For NO3, a detection limit of 3 parts per trillion (ppt) was achieved in measurement interval of only 2s. SC-CEAS is easy to implement, robust and precise and ideally suited for multiplexed detection of several species at once. For more details see: Nature Photonics Research Highlight 
Original Paper in Optics Express 
SC-CEAS research project

July 2008 3rd Koerber meeting hosted by Laser Analytics Group


The Koerber project on the use of photonic crystal fibres in biomedicine and sensing is a cross-disciplinary collaboration between research teams at the Universities of BathCambridgeEdinburghErlangenWarwick and Queen Mary University of London. Its goals are to explore the application of photonic crystal fibres in compact super-bright broadband light sources for microscopy, ultra-high sensitivity environmental (water & air) monitoring, and medical applications such as flow cytometry and metabolite sensing. The 3rd project meeting is hosted by the Laser Analytics Group in Cambridge from Oct. 3-5 2008
For more details see:

July 2008 CamBridgeSens - 
bridging the gaps in sensor research


Dr. Mica Green has been appointed as project co-ordinator for CamBridgeSens, a large scale network activity across the University of Cambridge to connect sensor related science across departments in Cambridge. The project is funded by EPSRC and headed by Dr. C. Kaminski and Prof. Lisa Hall to promote an innovative multidisciplinary research culture in Cambridge for sensor research. More information is found in issue 6, 2008 of the University Horizon magazine: News Feature. The project's web site is at:

October 2007

Theodor Foerster Lecture Series


The Laser Analytics Group hosts the 1st Theodor Förster International Lecture series at the University of Cambridge comprising lectures by some of the world's most eminent scientists in biological fluorescence imaging. The emphasis of the series is the quantitative application of state-of-the-art optical methods to solve problems in the life sciences. The series is associated with the Physics of Living Matter initiative in Cambridge. The lecture series is generously sponsored by leading industries developing microscopy instrumentation and the main events will be accompanied by journal clubs, practical demonstrations, and displays of the latest technologies.
January 2008

100000 Euro research prize for Clemens Kaminski

Saot Logo

Clemens Kaminski is recipient of the prestigious SAOT research prize, awarded by the School of Advanced Optical Technologies at the University of Erlangen / Nuremberg in Germany. The prize is in recognition for his contributions in Applied Optics research and is worth 100000 Euros. In conjunction with the prize, Kaminski was appointed as Guest Professor at the SAOT school, which he holds in the newly founded Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Light, Erlangen in the group of Professor Philip Russell.

Further links:
University press release
Departmental news page
Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Light
SAOT award ceremony

March 2007 Green Sensors


The work of Dr Johan Hult on sensor design has been featured in the Newsline magazine of the EPSRC. Dr Hult has also given an invited talk on his research at the recent Horizons Event organised by the University of Cambridge.
September 2007 FLAIR 2007


The 1st international conference on Field Laser Applications in Industry and Research took place in Florence and was attended by Iain Burns, Toni Laurila and Clemens Kaminski, who all gave talks. Kaminski also served in the organisation of the meeting as a founding member of the programme committee. Full details on the Department News Page and on the conference website

September 2006 Photon06


Members of the group attended the Photon06 conference in Manchester and gave several oral presentations. This is the largest UK conference for optics and photonics research. Full details on the Department News Page
January 2007 Leverhulme Visiting Professor


Professor Houston Miller from George Washington University is hosted by the Laser Analytics group. Professor Miller will collaborate with us to establish technologies for probing biomolecules using gold nanoparticle enhanced SERS (surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy). He furthermore will present a series of Leverhulme lectures to transfer knowledge in advanced optical diagnostic techniques.
November 2005

Leverhulme Prize

Leverhulme small

Dr Clemens Kaminski has been awarded the 2005 Philip Leverhulme Prize for outstanding research achievement in the development of fast chemical imaging techniques. The prize is over GBP50k and to be used to follow personal research interests. Full details on the andDepartment News Page and University press release .


February 2006 LACSEA Conference


Dr. Johan Hult, Alan Elder, and Dr. C.F. Kaminski of the Laser Analytics Group attended the 10th international conference on Laser Applications in Chemical and Environmental Analysis, which took place at Incline Village, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, on Feb 5-10, 2006. Full details on the Department News Page.
October 2005 Hinshelwood Prize


Dr Clemens Kaminski has won the 2004 Cyril Hinshelwood prize. The award is named after Cyril Hinshelwood who, together with Nikolay Semenov, received the 1956 Nobel prize in Chemistry for research into radical chain reactions. The Hinshelwood prize is awarded by the British Section of the Combustion Institute for outstanding work by a younger researcher in combustion science. Dr Kaminski received it for the development of laser based imaging techniques and their application to both fundamental and practical problems in combustion.

Hinshelwood prize

September 2005 Gaydon Award


Members of the Laser Analytics Group have been awarded the Gaydon Award for the most significant UK contribution to the 30th International Symposium on Combustion, held in Chicago in 2004. The Symposium is the largest and most prestigious conference in the field and the prize went to Sara Gashi, Johan Hult, Karl Jenkins (Cranfield University), Nilan Chakraborty (Dept. of Engineering, Cambridge), Stewart Cant (Dept. of Engineering, Cambridge), and Clemens Kaminski for their paper entitled: Curvature and wrinkling of premixed flame kernels - comparisons of OH planar laser induced fluorescence data and direct numerical simulations, Proceedings of the Combustion Institute, vol. 30 (2005) 809-817. 

The prize was awarded by the Combustion Institute (British Section) at the autumn meeting in Cambridge, on the 12th of September 2005.

Nobel prize awarded for optical super-resolution microscopy

last modified Feb 17, 2015 09:10 PM
The inventors of single molecule localisation and stimulated emission depletion (STED) super-resolution microscopy were today honoured with the Nobel prize for chemistry. One of the key applications of super-resolution imaging, pioneered by the Laser Analytics Group and mentioned by the Nobel Assembly, is the study of protein aggregation reactions in the context of neurodegenerative diseases.

Super-resolution fluorescence microscopy (or nanoscopy) is a key enabler for research conducted by the Laser Analytics Group and we were thrilled to hear today that the inventors of optical nanoscopy have been honoured with the Nobel Prize.

In what has become known as nanoscopy, scientists visualise the pathways of individual molecules inside living cells.

They can see how molecules create synapses between nerve cells in the brain; they can track proteins involved in Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s diseases as they aggregate.

The Nobel Assembly discuss work pioneered by the group whilst announcing the award

For more information about super-resolution microscopy and how this is being applied to the study of the molecular mechanism of disease please see our recent feature on this website, that explains in more detail the activities in superresolution microscopy developments in the group.

The Laser Analytics Group  congratulates Dr. Betzig, Professor Hell and Professor Moerner on their outstanding achievements.

Relevant publications

Kaminski Schierle GS, van de Linde S, Erdelyi M, Esbjörner EK, Klein T, Rees E, Bertoncini CW, Dobson CM, Sauer M, and Kaminski CF, "In Situ Measurements of the Formation and Morphology of Intracellular ß-Amyloid Fibrils by Super-Resolution Fluorescence Imaging", J. Am. Chem. Soc., 133 (33), pp 12902–12905, (2011). DOI | pdf | summary

Michel CH, Kumar S, Pinotsi D, Tunnacliffe A, St George-Hyslop P, Mandelkow E, Mandelkow E-M, Kaminski CF, Kaminski Schierle GS, "Extracellular Monomeric Tau is Sufficient to Initiate the Spread of Tau Pathology", J. Biol. Chem. (2014), 289: 956-967. DOI | pdf | summary

Pinotsi D, Büll AK, Galvagnion C, Dobson CM, Kaminski-Schierle GS, Kaminski CF, "Direct Observation of Heterogeneous Amyloid Fibril Growth Kinetics via Two-Color Super-Resolution Microscopy," Nano Letters (2013), 14 (1), 339–345 DOI | pdf | summary

Fritschi S K, Langer F, Kaeser S A, Maia L F, Portelius E, Pinotsi D, Kaminski C F, Winkler D T, Maetzler W, Keyvani K, Spitzer P, Wiltfang J, Kaminski Schierle G S, Zetterberg H, Staufenbiel M, Jucker M, "Highly potent soluble amyloid-β seeds in human Alzheimer brain but not cerebrospinal fluid," Brain (2014). awu255. DOI | pdf | summary

Esbjörner E K, Chan F, Rees EJ, Erdelyi M, Luheshi LM, Bertoncini CW, Kaminski CF, Dobson CM, Kaminski-Schierle GS, "Direct Observations of the Formation of Amyloid β Self-Assembly in Live Cells Provide Insights into Differences in the Kinetics of Aβ(1–40) and Aβ(1–42) Aggregation," Chemistry and Biology (2014)  DOI |pdf | summary

Kaminski C F, Pinotsi D, Michel C H, Kaminski Schierle G S, "Nanoscale imaging of neurotoxic proteins", SPIE NanoScience+ Engineering (2013), 91690N--91690N. DOI | pdf | summary

Further information on superresolution techniques available in the group

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!

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.

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

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.  


Disease related protein aggregates develop an intrinsic fluorescence signature

last modified Nov 05, 2013 03:33 PM
In recent articles published in the journal Analyst and ChemBioChem we demonstrate that disease related proteins such as amyloid beta and tau, the proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease, develop an intrinsic fluorescence when they form aggregates, so called protein amyloids.

The process of amyloid formation is intricately linked to the pathology of diseases causing dementia, and the finding is a major breakthrough for such studies.  In the paper by Pinotsi et al, we demonstrate that we can study amyloid aggregation without requirement for traditional labeling protocols which can interfere with aggregation and are thus prone to cause false readings, e.g. when screening for drugs. The work is part of a major research programme in the group to investigate the molecular mechanisms behind neurodegenerative diseases and is funded by the Wellcome Trust Neurodgenerative Disease Initiative and Alzheimer’s Research UK.

Protein released from cells triggers chain reactions which may cause Alzheimer's disease

last modified Dec 11, 2013 11:58 AM
A powerful laser imaging technique developed by the group reveals how minute quantities of a protein associated with Alzheimer’s Disease trigger a process which may be crucial to its onset and spread.

In a recent paper just published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry we have been able to show that the protein Tau, a key protein at the focus of Alzheimer's disease (AD), propagates between cells in a manner similar to prion like proteins.   The “prion-like hypothesis" of amyloid protein propagation is still a matter of intense debate in the literature.  Contrary to previous work we were able to show, using high resolution microscopy methods developed in the group, how small quantities of healthy Tau deposited on the outside of brain cells get ingested by the cells, and that this process of ingestion causes the protein to misfold and aggregate into insoluble clumps.  Crucially these aggregates then trigger the endogenous, 'healthy' Tau that is naturally present in neurons to misbehave and co-aggregate with the ingested Tau. 

Unlike other studies in the field on this theme we have not used aggregates as a starting point for these propagation studies and we used endogenous protein levels and not over-expression systems, which can bias the outcome of such investigations.   Not only were we able to observe, for the first time, how monomeric Tau is taken up by cells but also that the associated process of endocytosis, the uptake of proteins by lipid vesicles, is a likely event to trigger the first steps of  Tau aggregation.  This has potentially very significant consequences for the molecular pathology of Alzheimer's Disease:  The mere process of endocytosis of Tau may be enough to trigger its 'misbehaviour'.

Tau is normally an intracellular protein and does no harm, however, if for some reason it is translocated to the outside of cells, our studies suggest that this could initiate the aggregation cycle that is linked to the disease.  It also offers a potential explanation for the known fact that repeated head injury, e.g. sustained during contact sport, is connected to the onset of Tau related diseases:  Neurons which die during head trauma release Tau into the extracellular space and from this point on Tau ingestion by adjacent, healthy neurons, could trigger nucleation and co-aggregation of endogenous Tau. 

The findings were enabled by our development of a fluorescence lifetime sensor that reports on the aggregation state of amyloids in vivo. We have also made use of a novel two colour direct stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (dSTORM) technique introduced by our group for amyloid research, a technique that is about to be published in our upcoming publication in Nano Letters

This study featured on the University of Cambridge front website, the Alzheimer’s Research UK news page, and national / international press.

The work was funded through generous support by Alzheimer’s Research UK, the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust.


Dr. Claire Michel, one of the investigators on the project, at work on the Fluorescence lifetime imaging microscope.

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

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.


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


Senior Teaching Officer post available for Sensor CDT

last modified Jun 16, 2014 11:17 AM
We are seeking to fill a Senior Teaching Associate position in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology to lead the course development programme for the newly established Centre for Doctoral Training in Sensor Technologies and Applications.

The successful candidate will have outstanding communication and organisational skills as well as a track record in sensor research.  The role comes with significant responsibility and requires creativity and vision to establish and shape a world leading programme of research training for future sensor champions.  It may be possible to combine this function with part time research activity. For informal enquiries please contact Oliver Hadeler (, programme manager  of the CDT ( or Clemens Kaminski. 

Full details of the position please refer to:

Become a sensor champion: Final Studentships Available for October 14 intake

last modified Jul 04, 2014 12:35 PM
A further contingent of fully funded PhD studentships is available for exceptional students with a background in the natural sciences, engineering or medical sciences from the UK and EU nationals who have studied in the UK for the last three years or who are currently employed in the UK. Application deadline: 3 August 2014.

Are you interested in building the future's most powerful microscopes that reveal the molecular world from the inside of a cell?  Are you keen to learn on how to use 3D printers to make sophisticated lab components that empower your research?  Then come and join the Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Sensor Technologies and Applications and learn how to do effective research both as an individual and in a team. Learn the latest experimental and theoretical techniques and then join one of the more than 50 participating laboratories in Cambridge to do the PhD of your choice, tailored to your interests, skills and aspiration.

We are soon closing applications to the Sensor CDT, but a further small contingent of fully funded PhD studentships are now available for exceptional students with a background in the natural sciences, engineering or medical sciences from the UK and EU nationals who have studied in the UK for the last three years or who are currently employed in the UK.

For full details on eligibility and application process, see 'How to Apply'.

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.

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!

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. 

Strong showing for Laser Analytics Group at the Microscience Microscopy Congress 2014

last modified Jul 22, 2014 02:11 PM
During a successful visit to the Microscience Microscopy Congress in Manchester nine group members presented their work. This included talks from three group members and a prize winning poster by Dr. Romain Laine.
Strong showing for Laser Analytics Group at the Microscience Microscopy Congress 2014

Dr. Romain Laine

The MMC is an important conference in the Group's calender and PhD students Aleksander Chmielewski and Weiyue Chen were delighted to be given the opportunity to talk on their work on light sheet microscopy and FRET stoichiometry. Group leader Clemens Kaminski was invited to give an overview on the group's use of super-resolution microscopy in the study of neurodegenerative diseases.

Group members Romain Laine, Pierre Mahou, Laurie Young, Nathan Curry, Na Yu and Florian Ströl presented posters on their work with Romain's poster on the use of optical super-resolution to study the herpes simplex virus winning second prize in the bioimaging category. Congratulations to him!

The MMC is the largest microscopy conference in Europe, with key players from research and industry attending from all over the world. 

Sugden Award for members of the Laser Analytics Group

last modified Oct 09, 2014 12:03 PM
Award for the most significant contribution to Combustion Research

The Sugden Prize 2013 for the best paper published by a member of the British Section of The Combustion Institute has been awarded to Dr Robin Chrystie, Dr Iain Burns and Prof Clemens Kaminski, for their article entitled "Temperature response of an acoustically-forced turbulent lean premixed flame: A quantitative experimental determination", published in the Journal Combustion Science and Technology 185, pp 180-199, 2013.The paper presents precision laser measurements and simulations of temperature fluctuations in acoustically forced flames to study the interaction of turbulent flow with flame chemistry.  The suppression of thermoacoustic oscillations is vital in the safe implementation of lean emission combustion concepts, e.g. for aeroengines or power generation.

Dr. Chrystie is currently a postdoctroal fellow at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia, and Dr. Iain Burns is a lecturer at the University of Strathclyde.  Both performed their PhD work in the Laser Analytics Group and were members of the Department of Chemical Engineering.

The Sugden Prize is an annual award for contributions to combustion research. The prize is awarded by the British Section of The Combustion Institute for the published paper with at least one British Section member as author, which makes the most significant contribution to combustion research. The prize is named after Sir Morris Sugden

The prize was awarded at this year's AGM of the British Section of the Combustion Institute.

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

Aggregation rates of amyloid beta increase dramatically in acidic vesicles

last modified May 27, 2014 02:27 PM
New research by the Laser Analytics Group sheds light on the protein aggregation reactions at the heart of Alzheimer's disease.

Research led by Dr. Gabi Kaminski Schierle, and recently published in Chemistry and Biology, reveals how Amyloid-β, a protein involved in Alzheimer's disease, develops into a pathogenic species. The group has developed a fluorescent sensor concept,  which makes it  possible to study how proteins misfold and aggregate in living cells. Crucially it was shown that the kinetics of Aβ aggregation are vastly different in brain cells, than in the test tube, and further that  the most pathogenic forms of Amyloid-β aggregate much faster in live cells than had previously been assumed from corresponding studies in test tubes. The  technique makes it possible to correlate the appearance of certain aggregate species with their gain of toxic function thus providing a tool  to screen for potential therapeutic agents in  more efficient ways than hitherto possible.

Read more on this research in a press release on Alzforum.

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!