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Bay area to get unique x-ray microscopy resource

A first-of-its-kind x-ray microscope being built for the Advanced Light Source (ALS) of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) holds forth the promise of "cat scans" for biological cells, and other unprecedented capabilities for cell and molecular biology studies. The new microscopy resource also promises a better understanding of human diseases at the molecular level and possibly new discoveries for treating those diseases. Now, researchers with Berkeley Lab and the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), have received grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to build and operate this microscope.

"X-ray microscopy is an emerging new technology that will expand the existing imaging toolbox for cell and molecular biologists, and we would like to make this technology available to the greater biological community," says cell biologist and microscopy expert Carolyn Larabell, who holds a joint appointment with UCSF's Anatomy Department, and with Berkeley Lab's Physical Biosciences Division. She is the principle investigator for this project. Berkeley Lab physicist Mark Le Gros is the co-principle investigator.

"Although there are currently many powerful techniques for imaging biological cells, each with its own unique strengths and limitations, there remains a gap between the information that can be obtained with light microscopy and electron microscopy," Larabell says. "X-ray microscopy can bridge this gap by combining some of the best features associated with light and electron microscopy, plus bringing in some entirely new capabilities."

To build this new microscope, Larabell and Le Gros have been awarded $2.5 million from NIH and DOE. The money will be dispersed to UCSF through NIH's National Center for Research Resources (NCRR). Under the terms of this grant, Larabell and Le Gros will establish a Biomedical Technology Resource Center at the ALS, which means
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Contact: Lynn Yarris
lcyarris@lbl.gov
510-486-5375
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
31-Mar-2004


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