The University of Adelaide has been awarded $23 million to establish a new Center of Excellence to develop technologies that will help researchers to create a "window into the body" in ways never achieved before.
The new Australian Research Council (ARC) Center of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics will cross the boundaries of biology, lasers and nanoscience, using light-based sensors to probe molecular processes within living systems.
"Our understanding of the processes of life is limited by constraints imposed by studying cells and biological systems outside the body. Much more can be learnt if we can work within," says Professor Tanya Monro, the Director of the new Center of Excellence.
"We will use nanomaterials and photons to serve as an interface between organisms and artificially engineered systems. By bringing these fields together we will transform our understanding of nanoscale events in living systems.
"We will create a window into the body, with tangible outcomes from our research in areas such as reproductive health, the immune system, and cardiovascular health," Professor Monro says.
The new Center of Excellence brings together leading researchers from the University of Adelaide, Macquarie and RMIT with key international, national and industry partners.
The Center of Excellence will seek to understand three main themes:
The Spark of Life - by exploring approaches to sensing in and around developing embryos
Origins of Sensation - by probing immune signals linked to touch and pain in the central nervous system
Inside Blood Vessels - by exploring the role of the endothelium within blood vessels and the damaging effects of plaque.
"These challenges have been selected because they pose measurement questions that cannot be addressed with existing technologies," Professor Monro says. "They provide a context in which we can explore and extend the limits of science, and enable direct impact on people's lives."
The University's Acting Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Mike Brooks, says: "This funding announcement is an outstanding result, and is testament to the University of Adelaide's world-class research strengths across a range of disciplines.
"As well being the only university in South Australia to receive funding for a Center of Excellence in this round, the University of Adelaide is a key partner in a further three Centers of Excellence just announced, in mathematics and statistics, robotic vision, and plant energy biology," Professor Brooks says.