ESRICmicroscope
An epithelial cell microscope image using conventional microscopy (left) contrasted with super-resolution imaging (right) showing more detail

The Edinburgh Super-Resolution Imaging Consortium (ESRIC) has received a funding boost from the RS Macdonald Trust for its latest project.

The Edinburgh Super-Resolution Imaging Consortium (ESRIC), a joint partnership between Heriot-Watt and the University of Edinburgh, is a super-resolution microscopy facility and was established to enhance several areas of research, with a key strength in the field of neurodegenerative diseases.

It offers access and training to researchers, providing them with the tools to address fundamental questions in human biology and disease and in a short period of time has become a world-leading authority on the development and application of so-called ‘super-resolution’ optical techniques. These allow smaller structures to be resolved than ever before, something of key importance in modern biology.

Currently, ESRIC charges an hourly rate for access to its facilities to cover running costs in order to be sustainable. The generous support received from the RS Macdonald Charitable Trust will allow ESRIC to establish an Access Fund to offer bursarial support for specifically early career researchers whose studies can affect the cause, prevention or management of neurological degenerative diseases.

Professor Rory Duncan, Senior Academic Lead for Strategy and Development, said: “With its world-leading expertise, professional training and unique equipment, ESRIC is ideally placed to support researchers in Scotland to advance their biomedical research using cutting-edge approaches.

“While our users have typically been established investigators with their own grant funding, this bursary scheme will ensure our facilities are accessible to a wider audience of researchers.

“We are excited to see how the Access Fund will open new collaborations, partnerships and research, ensuring that the very finest equipment, expertise and training is offered to aspiring researchers to develop their research and their careers. We are grateful to both our Development and Alumni Office for helping with our application, and to the RS MacDonald trust for their continued generosity and support.”

Rachel Campbell, Director at RS Macdonald Charitable Trust, said: “The RS Macdonald Charitable Trust has worked on a number of research initiatives with Heriot-Watt University.  Our latest grant will help develop the research skills of early career researchers investigating neurological degenerative diseases in Scotland. 

“By distributing bursaries to researchers, we are confident the University will promote not just usage of advanced microscopic techniques but will seek to support the recipient with a menu of support to further their academic standing, their future research and their networks. 

“We recognise this to be responsive and dynamic funding and are looking forward to learning the outcome of these exceptionally supportive bursaries in due course.”

In 2019, Heriot-Watt is celebrating its Year of Health, a calendar of engagement that spans schools, communities, businesses and government. Throughout the year, the campaign will highlight the university’s research and the ground-breaking discoveries that are helping drive innovations in healthcare, diagnosis and treatment.

Details of the application process will be available soon on the ESRIC website.

Image: Alison Dun and Weiping Lu