15 million to better understand life with advanced microscopy

Published on
February 22, 2023

A collaboration of Dutch universities, including Wageningen University & Research (WUR), will receive 15 million euros from the NWO National Roadmap to advance microscopy and use it to better understand life and fight diseases. NWO announced the funding of the project called NL-BioImaging on February 20, 2023.

NL-BioImaging builds on the work of Antoni van Leeuwenhoek who studied microscopic life and processes like reproduction with the microscope he built. Now, 300 years after his death, turbulent developments in microscopy make it possible to visualize and adjust processes in living cells and organisms at high magnification.

Cellular processes in 3D

Within the consortium, WUR tries to visualise biological processes in 3D, as a photo or as a video. “These techniques allow you to see exactly what is happening in the cell and where molecules are active,” says Jan Willem Borst, assistant professor in Biochemistry and connected to the Microspectroscopy Research Facility. “Moreover, we can quantify the molecules.” In Wageningen, scientists mainly study plant cells, but the same 3D technique is also useful for researchers working on organs on a chip (organoids).

The insights obtained should lead to scientific breakthroughs. That will allow scientists to better understand diseases such as cancer, metabolic and cardiovascular diseases and brain disorders and to develop new potential strategies for prevention, therapy and cure.