Research Fellows Directory
Professor Paola Borri FLSW
In the quest to understand the chain of life from molecules to cells and decipher how cells work, biological questions are increasingly demanding techniques able to resolve biomolecules and their interactions at the smallest possible scale in space and in real-time while biochemical processes are happening. Since its first invention in the 17th century the optical microscope has been an indispensable tool to drive this progress. However most cellular constituents are hard to distinguish under a light microscope unless they are stained. Therefore most modern microscopes for biology use organic dyes attached to biomolecules or fluorescent proteins. However, fluorescently-tagged hence modified biomolecules raise questions if their behaviour is real or artefactual. Furthermore, all organic fluorophores are prone to photo-bleaching.
Coherent Antistokes Raman Scattering (CARS) microscopy has emerged in the last decade as a novel technique which does not require fluorophore labelling and is still able to distinguish different biomolecules and cellular constituents based on their chemical composition. It uses the interaction of light with vibrating chemical bonds which produces light scattered at a different wavelength (hence colour) compared to the incident light. In my lab we have many years’ experience in developing innovative CARS excitation/detection schemes. My research aim is to push the boundaries of this technology development and demonstrate unprecedented sensitivity to enable the observation of small number of biomolecules label-free directly inside living cells. This will have a major impact in solving important biological and biomedical problems that are virtually impossible to address with currently available techniques.