BBSRC capacity-building grants are available once a year and provide enabling infrastructure for the most cutting-edge science.
Recently, the BBSRC awarded £760,000 to a consortium of researchers at Kent, Sussex and Nottingham led by Dr Neil Kad for a Lumicks C-Trap that allows manipulation and visualisation of objects down to a single molecule in real time.
The C-Trap instrument uses several focused laser beams to capture physical objects such as beads, cells or even organelles. Once trapped, the instrument allows forces to be applied to these objects and the effects monitored and measured. This capability will be used to answer many fundamental questions in biology, such as, how does the genome reorganize in a cell to permit gene expression when under tension generated by motors within the replication machinery, or, how does force experienced by a cell define its differentiated morphology? The machine is so sensitive that it can be used to examine the effects of force even on a single protein! As this is the only instrument of its kind in the UK, Kent will become a national facility (KNOT: Kent National Optical Trapping facility) with 25% of instrument time reserved for external applications.
Dr Kad said: “The funding of this instrument marks a step change in the scientific capability of investigators both in Kent and the wider UK.”