Scottish Centre for Macromolecular Imaging Opens in Glasgow

Interior pictures of Scottish Centre for Macromolecular Imaging

The newly opened cutting-edge research centre will enable researchers to explore structural biology in greater depth.

The Scottish Centre for Macromolecular Imagining (SCMI) was opened yesterday in Glasgow by Richard Henderson FRS, Nobel Laureate 2017 for Chemistry.

The SCIMI is funded by The Medical Research Council, The Scottish Funding Council, The Scottish Universities Life Sciences Alliance, University of Glasgow, University of Edinburgh, University of Dundee, the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research and The MJM Smith Trust. It also received £11.3 million of government funding form the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Located inside the MRC’s Centre for Virus Research on Glasgow University’s Garscube Estate, it is designed to provide researchers with access to cutting-edge facilities for macromolecular structure determination and cellular tomography.

It has been billed as an “opportunity to explore the fascinating world of structural biology and view the facilities and technology offered by the state-of-the-art centre”.

SCMI Will Help Researchers to Find Cures for Deadly Diseases

According to a BBC report, the centre will help researchers to discover a new generation of treatments for otherwise deadly diseases. At its epicentre is a large and powerful electron microscope, the first of its kind in Scotland, that images samples frozen to -196C.

The JEOL Cryo ARM 300 microscope, which boasts a hefty price tag is one of only a few in the world and said to account for most of the SCMI’s £5m cost. Dr David Bhella, director of SCMI, told the BBC: “It’s a high voltage transmission electron microscope that’s designed for looking at specimens at liquid nitrogen temperatures.”

Electrons are used in this type of research because specimens have features that are smaller than the wavelengths of light. Photons are just too big to create images at the atomic level. Low temperature is essential as it stabilises the electrons, so researchers can then capture images of them.

The research that will be enabled at the SCMI has been described as a “revolution in medicine” which has the potential to help treat numerous diseases and illnesses, including cancer.

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