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Five UCSF Scientists Elected to National Academy of Sciences
Date:5/4/2009

etics research in the life sciences.

Sedat's research is aimed at understanding chromosome structure at the highest levels of organization, and he has taken significant steps toward characterizing the relationship between chromosome structure and function.

A chromosome is a thread-like package of genes and other DNA located in the nucleus of a cell. In spite of considerable effort over the past few decades, only recently has it been possible to determine the nature of even the simplest level of chromosome organization. Understanding the complex architecture of chromosomes is extremely important because it modulates gene expression and, as a result, any structural changes can affect potential disease states.

One area of study at Sedat's lab at UCSF focuses on the defined, three-dimensional folding patterns of chromosomes in Drosophila, or fruit flies, and the possible changes in that architecture over the course of development.

To conduct such studies, Sedat and his team have developed several innovative microscopic techniques specially tailored for three-dimensional structures. Along with computer image processing methods, these techniques provide a new way of seeing inside a cell.

Sedat and fellow UCSF professor of biochemistry and biophysics David Agard, PhD, led a team of scientists to develop a device known as the Optical Microscope eXperimental, or OMX, one of the world's highest-resolution wide-field light microscopes.

The device utilizes a technology called "structured illumination," in which a carefully designed pattern of light-similar to a bar code-is used to illuminate a previously unobservable object. Sophisticated computer software is then able to digitally reconstruct a single three-dimensional, ultra-high-resolution image from the multiple images generated with the illumination pattern.

In addition, the OMX was designed with extremely fast cameras and shutters capable of acquiri
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