Biology imaging centre funded at Diamond Light Source

Diamond Light Source, the UK's national synchrotron facility, has been granted £15.6 million for a new biology imaging centre.

The facility is being funded by the Wellcome Trust, the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

The centre will house state-of-the-art experimental equipment and expertise that will complement Diamond's current capabilities. Two high end cryo-electron microscopes will enable scientists to gather detailed three-dimensional images and structural information about the inner workings of the cell.

In addition to the powerful cryo-electron microscopes, the facility will include a sample preparation laboratory with a super-resolution fluorescence microscope and specialised equipment for preparing biological material for imaging.

It will enable broad, cost-effective access to these specialised techniques, which are becoming increasingly impractical and expensive to be operated by individual universities and research institutions.

Professor Dave Stuart, Life Science Director at Diamond Light Source, MRC Professor of Structural Biology at the University of Oxford and Director of the European Instruct project, said: "Diamond is delighted to be home to this new facility through the new grant awarded by the Wellcome Trust in collaboration with BBSRC and MRC.

"This new investment will provide a unique approach, which will integrate the activities of the synchrotron and the capabilities of electron microscopy. It will create a new synergy between the scientific techniques on offer. It is hoped that through this, major advances in visualising of subcellular mechanisms will be made."

The new centre is part of Diamond's phase III construction programme but will not be connected to the powerful synchrotron light source. It will be housed in its own building outside of the landmark silver doughnut-shaped building that houses the main synchrotron.

Dr Michael Dunn, Head of Genetic and Molecular Sciences at the Wellcome Trust, said: "We are pleased to be involved in this exciting venture, together with MRC and BBSRC, which will enable UK research to remain at the cutting edge of structural biology."

The facility will be accessed through peer review and opened to UK, EU and international scientists.