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Biophotonics Center Established at Adelaide

ADELAIDE, Australia, Dec. 19, 2013 — The University of Adelaide has been awarded AUD23 million (about $20 million) to establish a new Center of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics, the university announced this week.

The goal of the center, funded by the Australian Research Council, is to develop technologies that will help researchers to see into the body in unprecedented ways by crossing the boundaries of biology, lasers and nanoscience using light-based sensors to probe molecular processes within living systems. It brings researchers from the University of Adelaide, Macquarie University and RMIT University together with key international, national and industry partners.

“Our understanding of the processes of life is limited by constraints imposed by studying cells and biological systems outside the body,” said University of Adelaide professor Tanya Monro, who will direct the new center. “Much more can be learned if we can work within. We will use nanomaterials and photons to serve as an interface between organisms and artificially engineered systems. By bringing these fields together, we will transform our understanding of nanoscale events in living systems. We will create a window into the body, with tangible outcomes from our research in areas such as reproductive health, the immune system and cardiovascular health.”

The Center of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics will operate under three main themes:
  • The Spark of Life (exploring approaches to sensing in and around developing embryos)
  • Origins of Sensation (probing immune signals linked to touch and pain in the central nervous system)
  • Inside Blood Vessels (exploring the role of the endothelium within blood vessels and the damaging effects of plaque)
“These challenges have been selected because they pose measurement questions that cannot be addressed with existing technologies,” Monro said. “They provide a context in which we can explore and extend the limits of science, and enable direct impact on people’s lives.”

The center’s research is organized under four interconnected themes:
  • Illuminate — creating novel light sources for interrogating biomolecules
  • Recognize — creating smart surfaces for photonic structures and nanoparticles
  • Measure — creating nanophotonic architectures customized to enhance light-matter interactions at the nanoscale for biological measurement
  • Discover — identifying specific molecular changes for measurement using advanced molecular sensors
The University of Adelaide was the only South Australian university to receive funding for a Center of Excellence in this round, and is also a key partner in three other just-announced centers in mathematics and statistics, robotic vision, and plant energy biology, university officials said.

For more information, visit: www.cnbp.org.au 



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