A new microscopy facility has been launched at the University of Western Australia (UWA), the first of its kind in the state, which will lead to a better understanding and treatment of illnesses and diseases.
The facility was funded by the federal government through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy, and the WA government through the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation.
It includes three new microscopes: two JEOL F200 Transmission Electron Microscopes and a JEOL IT800 Scanning Electron Microscope, plus sample preparation facilities (Leica Microsystems).
As the gold standard approach in structural biology, cryo-transmission electron microscopy (CryoTEM) allows scientists to see the intricate structures of proteins, viruses and other biomolecules at sub-nanometre resolution. This provides a greater understanding of how these structures behave, leading to improved treatments for illnesses and diseases.
The new cryo-scanning electron microscope (CryoSEM) will enable surface imaging and element analysis of frozen samples across the physical and bio- sciences. It will support research efforts in agriculture, biotechnology and advanced materials.
“The microscopes will provide West Australian researchers in universities, medical research institutes, government labs and industry with the ability to address critical research problems,” UWA vice-chancellor Professor Amit Chakma said.
These include salinity and drought tolerance in crops; mine site remediation; food security and plant susceptibility to disease; biosecurity and exotic pathogens; organism responses to climate change; wildlife and human diseases; and the design and application of soft materials.
The new facility will be located in the WA node of Microscopy Australia, in the Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis at UWA.
“The new cryo-electron microscopy facility, which is the largest-ever single investment into electron microscopy in WA, will ensure that West Australian researchers in the biological and biomedical sciences have access to the latest technology critical to maintaining world-class research across the state,” facility director, associate professor Martin Saunders said.