The 1st International Symposium on the applications and uses of optical tweezers in life science research was hosted by JPK Instruments in Berlin on 15th May 2008. It was held at the Magnus Haus, the home of Heinrich Gustav Magnus, a renowned 19th century German chemist and physicist, and seat of the German Physical Society.
Optical tweezers are becoming of increasing importance to researchers working in the life sciences. Judging from the attendance of around 100 scientists from around the world, the need for a forum to discuss and push the limits of such technology was extremely well received. The format of the meeting saw invited presentations supported by a diverse poster competition sponsored by JPK Instruments, leaders in providing innovative nanotechnology solutions to the life sciences. Three sessions of oral presentations covered the technical aspects of optical tweezers as well as single molecule and live cell applications using this technology.
The invited speakers are world-leading scientists in the field: The first session considered the theory and application of optical tweezers and was presented by Professor Ernst-Ludwig Florin, University of Texas and Dr. Erik Schäffer, Technical University of Dresden. The second session covered the area of single molecule study and featured talks of Professor Martin Hegner from Trinity College Dublin, Professor Justin Molloy from UK’s National Institute for Medical Research and Professor Marileen Dogterom from the FOM Institute in Amsterdam. Finally, the third session focused on investigating living cell behaviour. The speakers were Professor Lene Oddershede from the NBI, Copenhagen, Professor Alexander Rohrbach from IMTEK in Freiburg and Professor Andrea Robitzki of the University of Leipzig. The talks led to many questions and discussion between the speakers and the audience demonstrating the value of such an annual forum.
It was exciting to see such a diversity of opportunity for optical tweezers exploitation. It is another example of technology that transcends traditional boundaries between scientific disciplines with physics meeting biology in a most exciting manner. Torsten Jähnke, one of JPK’s founders, said the company was extremely pleased with the attendance. It gave him only one problem – it will require an even bigger venue for next year’s meeting!
Finally a word about NanoBioVIEWS: This is the name given to a new series of international meetings initiated by JPK Instruments to further the scientific knowledge exchange on instrumentation and applications of nanotechnology in the life sciences.