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$52 million biophotonics lab opens

01 Nov 2002

A new biophotonics center with USD 52 million funding opens at the University of California, Davis.

The Davis campus of the University of California has received USD 52 million of funding to establish a biophotonics center. The majority of the funding will be provided by a 10 year USD 40 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The remaining USD 12 million will come from federal and state grants as well as private funding.

The Center for Biophotonics Science and Technology will bring together approximately 100 scientists from both academia and industry. Its research will range from using light to selectively treat tumors and sequence DNA to identifying single molecules within cells.

"Right now, I don't have the technology to see a single molecule or understand how it functions inside a cell," said center director Dennis Matthews. "Some of the new technologies that we are developing will be able to see the cell while it is living, talking and interacting with the other cells around it."

Researchers at the center are already testing new microscopes that they say can distinguish cancerous and healthy tissue more clearly than existing technologies. Plans are also under way to develop a hand-held pathogen-detection unit that can quickly identify the presence infectious agents such as anthrax and smallpox.

The center will collaborate with industry to transfer biophotonics technology to healthcare professionals. It will also trial innovative ways of training young scientists. Ideas include a new curriculum for children and undergraduate and graduate courses in biophotonics.

•  Although the center will be based at UC Davis, other institutions involved include Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, UC Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Stanford University, Alabama A&M University, University of Texas at San Antonio, Hampton University, Fisk University and Louisiana State University.

Jacqueline Hewett is news reporter on Optics.org and Opto & Laser Europe magazine.

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