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European Research Council

Proof-of-Concept grant for Ralf Jungmann

München, 07/17/2018

The ERC’s Proof of Concept program helps grantees to turn an idea sparked by an ERC-funded project into a commercially viable proposition. LMU physicist Ralf Jungmann has received a PoC grant to develop an innovative microscopy platform.

Ralf Jungmann, Professor of Experimental Physics at LMU and Head of the Molecular Imaging and Bionanotechnology group at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried, received a Starting Grant from the European Research Council in 2016. He has now been awarded a Proof-of-Concept grant by the same agency. The PoC program supports researchers in their efforts to convert an idea that emerged in the course of an ERC-funded research project into a practical and commercially viable output.

In the ERC project that began in 2016, entitled “From Tissues to Single Molecules: High Content in Situ Super-Resolution Imaging with DNA-PAINT”, Jungmann is developing ways to extend the applicability and power of super-resolution microscopy. The basic idea is to expand the range of super-resolution microscopy by making use of sequence-specific DNA interactions to visualize multiple biological targets in cells at once. The ultimate goal is to visualize the locations and interactions of thousands of macromolecules (i.e., proteins and/or RNAs) with the highest possible resolution in single cells. This would constitute a major step in cell biology, as conventional super-resolution methods have limited multiplexing capabilities due to the small number of spectrally distinct fluorescent dyes.

As part of Jungmann‘s current ERC-funded project, Maximilian Strauss and Alexander Auer have led efforts to develop a prototype for a novel and cost-efficient super-resolution microscope, a user-friendly software platform and easily modifiable probes for the sequential imaging of a multitude of proteins. “Commercially available instrumentation for super-resolution microscopy is extremely expensive. The fabrication of our prototype is significantly more economical, and it therefore has the potential to become the standard solution for high-resolution microscopy in the life sciences,” says Ralf Jungmann. The new Proof-of-Concept grant will make it possible to optimize the specifications and performance of the technology and bring it into the market.

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