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Salk Institute Celebrates Grand Opening of the Waitt Advanced Biophotonics Center
Date:2/11/2011

Science.

Axel Nimmerjahn, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Waitt Advanced Biophotonics Center and holder of the Richard Allan Barry Developmental chair, joined the Salk Institute from Stanford University in November of last year.

His laboratory focuses on the innovation of light microscopic tools that will enable novel studies of enigmatic brain cells called glia. Long thought to be nothing more than support cells, glia have emerged as sophisticated cellular players that make crucial contributions to normal brain physiology and pathology. Glioma, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alexander's disease and stroke are just a few examples of diseases glia are critically involved in. Nimmerjahn has created and continues to develop tools that allow researchers to directly visualize and manipulate glia in the intact healthy and diseased brain. This has led to key insights in glial cell biology, with broad implications for our view of brain function, which may eventually culminate in new treatments for neurodegenerative brain disease.

Also hailing from Stanford University, Bjorn Lillemeier, Ph.D., an assistant professor in both the Nomis Foundation Laboratories for Immunobiology and Microbial Pathogenesis and the Waitt Advanced Biophotonics Center and holder of the Rudolph and Sletten Developmental Chair, joined the Salk Institute in November 2009.

In his laboratory, he investigates the complex architecture of the plasma membrane -- the double layer of lipid molecules that encloses all cells -- as well as its contribution to signal transduction mechanisms in T cells, whose main job is to fight infection. Lillemeier is developing a combination of super-resolution microscopy based on photoactivation localization microscopy (PALM) with dual-color fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (dcFCS), to directly observe the spatial and temporal distribution of membrane-associated molecules on a nanometer scale. Understanding how these mechanisms become
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SOURCE Salk Institute for Biological Studies
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