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We are spearheading a revolution in cell biology to deepen our knowledge of the causes of a wide range of diseases, which is attracting scientific interest worldwide.

Professor Rory Duncan, Head of the Institute of Biological Chemistry, Biophysics and Bioengineering (IB3), School of Engineering and Physical Sciences

Professor Rory Duncan is a cell biologist who is passionate about working across traditional scientific boundaries. He researches the fundamental things that go wrong in diabetes and in neurological diseases, using microscopy. Recent invention in this field means that it is possible for us to see things inside cells, as small to us as Jupiter is large.

IB3 thrives in interdisciplinarity with biologists, chemists, mathematicians, engineers, physicists, clinicians, and even artists, in the team. Together, they have formed a truly world-leading force, developing new microscopy techniques with ever-greater power, novel analysis approaches that can track 100,000s of single molecules on the astronomically small scale inside living cells, as well as driving forward biology discovery.

Real-world impact

Cataracts are the principal cause of blindness globally and the most common cause of vision loss in those over 40. They are currently treated surgically after cataracts have formed. 

Rather than waiting for the condition to appear, a new LED technique allows clinicians to examine a florescence signal from proteins in the eye lens. By documenting the changes to the photochemistry of the eye during cataract formation, an objective scale for diagnosis can be created.

This could make it possible to diagnose and monitor cataracts before they form and ultimately develop a non-invasive treatment, improving sufferers' quality of life and saving the global health services millions. 

Read more. Read the BBC report.

Watch video interview