11 June 2009

Money for women in biophysics

The biophysics group has been awarded almost 5 million kroner from the Danish Council for Independent Research in the Natural Sciences, FNU. The money consists of a Steno-stipend of 3,7 million kroner and 1,2 million kroner for new, revolutionary optical tweezers.

Ala Trusina

The receipient of the new Steno stipend in biophysics is Ala Trusina. She is from Moldavia and was enrolled as a PhD student in Umeå, Sweden. However, in practice, she did her PhD with the biophysics group at the Niels Bohr Institute. After that she worked in the United States for four years and is now coming back to the Niels Bohr Institute where she will research primarily in experimental biophysics.

The grant will be used partly for salary and partly for new equipment, including a special microscope for observing different forms of fluorescence. She will work in particular with the mechanisms that cause Parkinson's Disease and Alzheimer's.

Lene Oddershede

Lene Oddershede, who leads the Optical Tweezers biophysics group, has received 1,2 million from FNU for new equipment and at the same time the grant releases an additional million kroner from the company the equipment is being purchased from. The company,JPK, is world renowned for its Atomic Force Microscopes and they would like to begin the commercial production of optical tweezers, which is an instrument that can work all the way down to nanometer-scale on the molecular level and with the help of a laser-tweezer can manipulate individual RNA-strands and measure forces and distances.

With the new instrument, the so-called 'NanoTracker', you can use not just one, but two optical tweezers simultaneously without reducing the measurement precision. The instrument is expected to be used to investigate the strength of RNA pseudoknots, toxicological properties of nano-particles, as well as how living cells react to external stimuli. The instrument is a prototype and also has four different detection systems for the collection of data.

”It is really a feather in the hat, that we are the one group in the world, which has been chosen to have the first prototype", explains Lene Oddershede, who expects to receive the new optical tweezers in 4-5 months.