Masterclass in microscopy

26 November 2015, International visits and visitors, Technology

Malaghan Institute scientists have been privileged to have access to a two-month masterclass in microscopy from an international expert from The Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland.  Professor Jurek Dobrucki, who visited for one week in February for one-on-one tutorials with our relatively new confocal microscope, returned in October for a two month sabbatical offering guidance on individual experiments using this technology.

This newer generation of microscopy enables Malaghan Institute investigators to unlock more about the behaviour of cells and the implications for disease states, and due to the generosity of our Hawke’s Bay Friends of the Malaghan Institute and the Hawke’s Bay community we purchased the confocal last year. It allows for the reconstruction of three-dimensional images of cells, and studies of surface antigens and cell physiology.   














Prof Dobrucki and staff scientist Alfonso Schmidt at the confocal 

Prof Dobrucki’s laboratory, housed in one of Europe oldest universities – the same one that Copernicus and Pope John Paul II attended – contains three confocal microscopes.  While the main focus of his laboratory’s work is on DNA damage and repair, he is no stranger to the world of immunology, which most of the Malaghan Institute scientists inhabit, having ongoing collaborations with many. He says, “Immunologists are increasingly using imaging to answer many of the questions their research poses. For example, thirty years ago cancer research was focussing on how we could better and more accurately irradiate tumours, but the world changes and a huge focus of cancer researchers worldwide is to understand how we can use the immune system against cancer. Immunology and the technology associated with it have developed in parallel, and in keeping with the step-change into newer ways to treat disease.”

Prof Dobrucki says his own career echoes this. He started his career as a biophysicist when radiation therapy for cancer was at its peak in terms of incremental improvements to be made for patient outcome. “Latterly, I have been fortunate to focus on the modern imaging techniques that are enjoying a period of unprecedented growth and development now.” 

Kylie Price, Manager of our Hugh Green Cytometry Core and President of the Australasian Cytometry Society met Prof Dobrucki two years ago at a Cytometry Congress in Australia, around the same time as our planned microscopy upgrade.  She says of him, “He is such an exceptional teacher and his outlook is so similar to ours. His generosity towards our scientists has accelerated and elevated our in-house abilities tremendously.”