Kavli Institute Researchers Secure Equipment Funding for Groundbreaking Cellular and Biomolecular Analysis

Kavli Institute Researchers Secure Equipment Funding for Groundbreaking Cellular and Biomolecular Analysis


The Kavli Institute for Nanoscience Discovery is proud to announce that four of its researchers have been awarded significant funding from UKRI (BBSRC). This funding will facilitate the acquisition of cutting-edge equipment, enabling ground-breaking research in the field of cellular and biomolecular analysis. The interdisciplinary teams are led by Stephen Tucker (Physics), Weston Struwe (Biochemistry) and Matt Higgins and Lindsay Baker(Biochemistry) on behalf of the COSMIC cryoEM facility.


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Pioneering Mass Spectrometry in Cellular Analysis


Weston Struwe aims to transform biological research capabilities by acquiring a state-of-the-art timsToF mass spectrometer. This advanced instrument, dedicated to interdisciplinary research in OMICs fields, offers unparalleled performance in analysing complex biomolecules such as glycans, lipids, metabolites, and protein complexes. The acquisition of this instrument will not only enhance ongoing research projects across groups in the Kavli but also accelerate growth in critically important OMICs technologies, such as mass spectrometry analysis of single cells.

The instrument's significance lies in its sensitivity, dynamic range and ability to analyse complex biomolecules, bridging the gap between macromolecular protein machines and small molecules that regulate protein and cellular function. By accurately characterizing isomeric structures, the timsToF mass spectrometer offers advantages over existing platforms. It will contribute to understanding the roles of glycans, lipids, and metabolites in cellular processes, thereby advancing our knowledge of biology at the molecular level. This instrument represents as a shared resource, promoting collaboration and making advanced technologies accessible to a broader range of scientists.

Illuminating Cellular Landscapes with Cutting-Edge Cryo-EM

On behalf of the COSMIC cryoEM facility, Matt Higgins and Lindsay Baker will acquire equipment that will enable researchers to observe the architecture and internal structures of cells in unprecedented detail. To understand cells, we need to be able to observe their architecture and internal structures, as well as to pin-point the locations of important molecules, and how their positions alter as cells change and interact. Cryogenic electron microscopy (cryo-EM) combined with correlative light microscopy (cryo-CLEM) will provide high-resolution imaging of cells and biological materials.


This technology will allow researchers to investigate various biological processes, such as cell-cell interactions, genome changes in bacteria exposed to antibiotics, chromosome movement in cancer, and cellular communication. Cryo-CLEM will unlock new insights into the mechanisms underlying vital processes in living organisms. This equipment will be used by many researchers from across Oxford to see inside cells in a new way, to discover how cells drive the processes needed for life.

Expanding Research Capabilities in Ion Channel Studies

Stephen Tucker, (Physics) is set to elevate the institute's research capabilities in ion channel and membrane transporter studies. Ion channels play a pivotal role in modulating the electrical currents within human cells and represent crucial therapeutic targets for a wide array of diseases. This funding award will facilitate the acquisition of an 8-channel 'Patchliner,' which offers an automated electrophysiology platform. While the University of Oxford boasts world-leading expertise in ion channel research through the OXION network, the lack of automated multichannel instruments within the university hinders certain experiments.


The Patchliner, with current clamp and temperature control modules, will not only expedite existing research projects in ion channel-related health issues, including sleep apnoea, stroke, neuropathic pain, neurodegenerative disorders like cerebellar ataxia, Parkinson's Disease, Alzheimer's, and circadian pain regulation but also unlock new avenues of exploration. The instrument will be made accessible as a Shared Research Facility within the Kavli Institute for Nanoscience Discovery. In future, this Facility aims to add other electrophysiology platforms to increase its capabilities to bring electrophysiology with reach of even more users.


Kavli INsD was happy to invest in this cutting-edge research equipment. These acquisitions will benefit not only the University of Oxford but also national and international researchers.