January 19, 2010

Getting a better look at life

Gary Brooker is no stranger to new technology. He’s been inventing microscopes to assist him and other scientists throughout the world in the discovery process for decades. His latest challenge: developing two new widefield nonscanning imaging technologies for fluorescence 3D microscopy so that scientists can see more detail inside live cells to help unravel the mysteries of how cells function in health and disease.

“This new technology will help researchers map the distribution of proteins and other components inside cells more simply and at a higher speed and resolution than before,” said Brooker, director of the Johns Hopkins University Microscopy Center on the Montgomery County Campus and a member of the Whiting School of Engineering’s faculty.

Working with researchers at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Brooker and his colleagues plan to combine the two widefield nonscanning imaging technologies they develop into a powerful single microscope that has the advantages inherent in each technology.

“This work will achieve whole cell mapping of fluorescent organelle proteins and other substances at higher resolutions while also enabling the capture of fluorescent confocal images on a CCD camera,” Brooker said.

Brooker’s research is funded by a three-year $1.5 million grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement Science and Engineering Research Grants Program, made possible through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The grant was announced Jan. 8.