November 24, 2021: Leibniz Transfer funding: Development of an ultrafast microscope at the HPI

Wednesday, 24. November 2021

The Senate of the Leibniz Association has recommended funding for an HPI project to develop an ultrafast microscope for working with highly infectious pathogens for the 2022 Leibniz Competition in the "Leibniz Transfer funding programme”.

Two photon excitation microscopy (TPE) is an extremely valuable tool for the direct study of infectious processes under realistic conditions. However, for researchers working with pathogens in biological safety level 3 (BSL3) laboratories, such as SARS-CoV-2, TPE microscopes are extremely rare. In addition, for real-time imaging of infectious processes in large volumes, new strategies are needed to increase the acquisition rate. 

This is precisely where the transfer project comes in: The goal is to develop a robust TPE prototype, install it at the HPI and thus make it available to the field of infection research. To this end, researchers from the disciplines of light microscopy, laser technology and life science are to be brought together - both from academia and industry. As a result, the next generation of TPE microscopes will be developed that are optimized for the study of pathogens under BSL3 conditions and offer user-friendly operation.

"With this, we are not only developing novel technologies, but also creating an infrastructure that is urgently needed to quickly develop strategies against emerging pandemics," explains project leader Dr. Roland Thünauer (head of light microscopy at the HPI technology platform "Microscopy and Image Analysis").

In addition to a number of HPI groups, cooperation partners include the University of Lübeck, the Research Center Borstel - Leibniz Lung Center (FZB), the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM), the Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology e.V. - Hans Knöll Institute (HKI), the Medical Laser Center Lübeck GmbH and the Leibniz ScienceCampus InterACt.

The "Leibniz Transfer funding programme“ promotes the transfer of knowledge from all areas of science to society, industry and politics, as well as the development of methods of communication and transfer.