It has been a good week for Cell Biology…
On Monday, the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine 2014 was awarded to John O’Keefe, May-Britt Moser and Edvard I. Moser for discovering cells that constitute a positioning system in the brain. John O’Keefe is Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at UCL and currently Director of the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre in Neural Circuits and Behaviour – made his then heretical and ultimately validated Nobel-worthy discoveries as far back as the early 1970’s! Norwegian couple May-Britt Moser and Edvard I. Moser met as postdocs whilst working at Edinburgh University and then were visiting scientists in O’Keefe’s lab in London before moing back to Norway.
Today, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2014 was awarded jointly to Eric Betzig, Stefan W. Hell and William E. Moerner “for the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy”.
“Two separate principles are rewarded. One enables the method stimulated emission depletion (STED) microscopy, developed by Stefan Hell in 2000. Two laser beams are utilized; one stimulates fluorescent molecules to glow, another cancels out all fluorescence except for that in a nanometre-sized volume. Scanning over the sample, nanometre for nanometre, yields an image with a resolution better than Abbe’s stipulated limit. Eric Betzig and William Moerner, working separately, laid the foundation for the second method, single-molecule microscopy. The method relies upon the possibility to turn the fluorescence of individual molecules on and off. Scientists image the same area multiple times, letting just a few interspersed molecules glow each time. Superimposing these images yields a dense super-image resolved at the nanolevel. ”
Super-resolution microscopy in some shape or form is now commercially available in a lab near you!
You can get the scientific low-down on their beautiful optical-engineering work as applied to biology here and if you find that too heavy going then the “for the public” guide is here.
You can see Betzig and Hell talk below (from 2012).