Latest update: 30th of December 2012

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ESA Topical Team meets in Frankfurt

Sat Sep 01, 2012 4:45 pm

Advanced Compound Microscopy for microgravity related research: From molecules to organism morphology.


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Frankfurt Center for Advanced Microscopy (FCAM)

The Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main is currently in the process of completing its re-structuring of the life sciences departments. The Riedberg Campus currently houses the Physics, Chemistry, Biochemistry departments and large parts of the Biology department. In addition, it houses the re-located two MPIs for Biophysics and Brain Research and the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies (FIAS). By the end of 2011 the Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Sciences (BMLS) was completed. During late 2011 the entire biology department including its large facilities for plant biology was located to the campus and late in 2012 the MPI for Brain Research will relocate in its entirely new building. The Riedberg Campus will provide space and facilities for about 3000 researchers and about 5000 students.

Physically, the Riedberg Campus is in the North of Frankfurt am Main, relatively close to the A5 motorway, about 10min by car from the Frankfurt Airport. It is obviously very well connected by public transport (tram, bus and close-by underground). The main railway station in Frankfurt am Main has access to the major German modern ICE lines and is part of the European network of railway lines. It is probably fair to say that Frankfurt is amongst the most easily and most versatile accessible cities in the heart of Germany as well as of Europe. This in turn means that the Riedberg Campus is easily, economically and quickly accessible.

The University of Frankfurt has and will continue to devote space, positions and financial resources to its light microscopy resources during the forthcoming years. The BMLS houses laboratory and offices as well as space for the Frankfurt Centre for Advanced Light Microscopy (FCAM), the EM facilities run by Achilleas Frangakis and other facilities. The new Biologicum, which contains the biology department, provide about 120 m² to FCAM and further space will be provided in other locations throughout the university. Finally, FCAM will have access to about 400m², which could make it one of the larger light microscopy facilities in Europe.

The History

The formation of the Center for Membrane Proteomics in 2002 was simultaneously the beginning of a professional organization of elementary techniques in advanced light microscopy with the aim to provide this in a central facility available for all scientists of the Goethe University. Conducted by former vice president of the Goethe University and director of the life imaging lab Jürgen Bereiter-Hahn, who is also the initiator of the new campus Riedberg, gathering all natural sciences at one place, the CMP Light Microscopy Center was established. Now a central administration managed the operation of the common facility. User now got trained on the instruments and into data analyses, before they started to use them, which was good the efficiency of the time spent on them but also for the lifetime and availability of the instruments. The administration took care for maintenance and repair as well as for the costs and a fair regulation of the access. The first confocal microscopes were allocated by Anna Starzinski-Powitz and Robert Tampé. Rooms were provided by the center for temporary projects using TIRF, FLIM and MELC technology. An infrastructure with labs, cryotom, refrigerators completed the facility.

Since 2002 the user hours increased permanently from 500 to 2500 user hour per year. Meanwhile biochemists, bio physicians, cell- and molecular biologists, pharmacists and medical scientist are using the facility.

With the appointment of Ernst Stelzer in 2009 in the course of the cluster of Excellence „Macromolecular Complexes“ (CEF-MC) a further and bigger advanced light microscopy center was established on the campus Riedberg. The pool of techniques increased tremendously. Now also Light Sheet-Based Fluorescence Microscopy (LSFM), Single Plane Illumination Microscope (SPIM) and its enhanced version Digital Scanned Light Sheet Microscopy (DSLM) developed in the Stelzer lab as well as Spinning Disk Microscopy and further Confocal Laser Scan Micrsocopy capacities are offered. Huge capacities of data storage systems are installed and the platforms for data analyses increased.

Ernst Stelzer and the directors of the CMP, Enrico Schleiff, Anna Starzinski-Powitz, Robert Tampé and Ulrich Brandt took the chance to initiate the merge of the two facilities to the new Frankfurt Center for Advanced Microscopy (FCAM) to establish one facility with one management and administration for the benefit of the scientists at the Goethe University. In 2012 the current CMP director, Andreas Reichert and the associate directors Klaas Martinus Pos and Ulrich Brandt together with Ernst Stelzer, the director of FCAM, Ivan Dikic, the director of the Buchman Institute for Life Science and director of CEF-MC, Harald Schwalbe, the director of CEF-MC and Anna Starzinski-Powitz, the dean of the department for Biosciences, agreed upon the fusion of the microscopy centers. New technologies like high resolution microscopy will be installed in near future. Trainings, workshops, conferences and education will generate a lively atmosphere to increase the quality of research projects and to save time of researcher because of an efficient introduction into the techniques and the provision of the best technique for each certain scientific question.

It is the aim of FCAM in a more and more interdisciplinary scientific community to enhance the quality of research projects in life sciences and related disciplines, to increase the efficiency of the time scientists have to spend to become familiar with advanced microscope techniques and to help them to find the best method to solve their scientific questions. FCAM ensures the provision up-to-date advanced techniques, a professional management of the research environment and the best support for our clients, the scientists of the Goethe University.