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New High-Power Microscopy System at the Institute of Zoology

Press Release No. 183/2010
3 August 2010
German Research Foundation provides funding for new confocal microscope
Simulator für Mikrochirurgie
Detail of the fish retina in which cells are marked with different fluorescent proteins (cell envelopes green, cell nuclei red).

Photo: Dr. Lucia Poggi

With the help of funding from the German Research Foundation (DFG), a new high-power microscopy system is about to go into operation at Heidelberg University’s Institute of Zoology. Biologist Prof. Dr. Jochen Wittbrodt and his team will be using it to investigate crucial stages of development in animals. Research will focus on processes in embryonic development that lead to the formation of a complete fish. A brief symposium on Wednesday, 4 August 2010 will introduce the new confocal microscope.

Important stages in embryonic development are the correct proliferation and differentiation of cells and their migration to their final locations. These processes play a key role not only in fish; they are also fundamental development mechanisms of major significance for humans. One central research method in this connection is the microscopic observation of cells in the developing fish embryo. Professor Wittbrodt heads the Department of Molecular Developmental Biology and Physiology at the Institute of Zoology. He belongs to the Interdisciplinary Centre for Neurosciences and is also a member of Heidelberg University’s “Cellular Networks” cluster of excellence.

The new microscopy system – a laser-scanning confocal microscope by Leica Microsystems – supplements the digital laser microscope developed by Professor Wittbrodt in collaboration with biophysicist Dr. Ernst Stelzer of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg. It allows for detailed observation of cell behaviour with best-possible spatial and temporal resolution. The German Research Foundation (DFG) and the state of Baden-Württemberg supported the acquisition. Back in 1987 a precursor model was installed in the building that is now the Institute of Zoology, again with assistance from the DFG, and was further developed by Heidelberg scientists specifically for biological use.

The brief symposium will cover the ongoing work in Professor Wittbrodt’s department as well as provide an overview of the development of confocal microscopy, notably in Heidelberg.

Prof. Dr. Jochen Wittbrodt
Institute of Zoology
phone: +49 6221 546499

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