Category Archives: RMIT

New CNBP researcher at RMIT

16 August 2018:

CNBP welcomes its newest recruit at RMIT University, Dr Amanda Abraham.

She will work with A/Prof Brant Gibson, CNBP Deputy Director and his team, where she will utilise her expertise to explore the biological applications of fluorescent nanomaterials including nanodiamonds, as well as collaborate across the wider CNBP community.

Amanda completed her PhD at RMIT University where she studied the long-term effects of phytochemical coated silver nanoparticles on mammalian cells. She was awarded the Prof CNR Rao Postgraduate Research Excellence Award for her PhD research. This award is given to an RMIT Graduate Sstudent for outstanding contributions in the application of Nanotechnology.

She has also worked as a post-doctoral researcher with Prof. Vipul Bansal, Director of the Sir Ian Potter NanoBioSensing Facility at RMIT University, where she investigated the wound healing capabilities of silver nanoparticle coated fabrics for use as wound dressings.

Her expertise includes mammalian cell culture, confocal microscopy, flow cytometry, protein quantification, assessing gene expression and nanoparticle characterisation.

Welcome to the CNBP team Amanda!

Future Fellowship success for CNBP researchers

13 August 2018:

In exciting grant funding news, ARC Future Fellowships were recently awarded to the following CNBP researchers:

Prof Mark Hutchinson (CNBP Director, pictured) – University of Adelaide. Measuring pain in livestock: mechanisms, objective biomarkers and treatments.

Dr Ivan Maksymov (CNBP Researcher Fellow) – RMIT University. Nonlinear optical effects with low-power non-laser light.

Dr Steven Wiederman (CNBP Associate Investigator) – University of Adelaide. From insects to robots: how brains make predictions and ignore distractions.

The Future Fellowships scheme supports research in areas of critical national importance by giving outstanding researchers incentives to conduct their research in Australia. Each Future Fellow recipient will receive salary and on-cost support for four years, and up to $50,000 in additional funding per year for other essential costs directly related to their project.

Congratulations to all Fellowship recipients who will now be able to further develop and advance their innovative areas of research! Further information on Fellowship projects are available from the ARC web site.

CNBP shines at RMIT Open Day

12 August 2018:

250 members of the public including families and potential students visited CNBP laboratories at RMIT University, Sunday 12th August, 2018, as a part of the institution’s Open Day activity.

Learning about the science of light, as well as sensing and imaging at the nanoscale, attendees were able to tour the biophotonics and cryogenic confocal laboratories, as well as experience first hand, demonstrations which included fluorescence microscopy.

“At times, the labs were packed with interested and engaged prospective students and their friends and families, said CNBP Deputy Director and RMIT node leader A/Prof Brant Gibson.

“It was amazing to hear the passion for science by some of the prospective students – some really knew what they wanted to study and some didn’t.”

“There was also excellent feedback from public regarding the the passion from my team when discussing CNBP research and why it is having such an impact for society, he says.”

Below – Emma Wilson demonstrating fluorescence microscopy! Bottom photo – Dr Philipp Reineck demonstrating fluorescence with UV light in the lab.

Research translation is focus of CNBP workshop

11 July 2018:

The take-home message from CNBP’s two day ‘Research Translation’ workshop, held in Adelaide, the 5th and 6th of July, was that high quality science can change people’s lives and that the research that CNBP undertakes is truly transformative with huge translation potential.

Over 75 CNBP researchers, students, partners and invited guests attended the workshop which was based at the University of Adelaide on Day One and which then moved to the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institution (SAHMRI) on Day Two.

During the workshop CNBP researchers worked in small groups with senior clinicians to learn about clinical problems and discuss how their research could be translated. They also heard from several leading clinicians about what it’s like to be part of a clinical translation project.

Additional talks described clinical translation from ‘the other side’ – with technical researchers explaining the steps involved in translating a new technology, and drawing on their real-world experiences and outlining key learnings that had been made. Dr Anne Collins then brought insight from a commercial perspective, providing a detailed case study of one of Trajan Scientific and Medical’s most recent market products.

A number of CNBP researchers, from all nodes across the Centre, then presented brief updates on clinically-related projects that are currently underway. This culminated in a master-class led and coordinated by CNBP CI Nicki Packer on seeing nanoparticles at super resolution in cells.

CNBP Director Prof Mark Hutchinson wrapped-up workshop proceedings noting that he had been highly impressed with the science and information presented and encouraged the CNBP team to keep ‘commercialisation impact’ top of mind as this was one of the Centre’s core values.

Prof Rob McLaughlin, Founder of Miniprobes and Senior CNBP Investigator, who helped host the event noted, “We’d like express our gratitude to all of the clinicians who made the workshop such a success: Jillian Clark, Rob Fitridge, Adam Wells, Phan Nguyen, Nam Nguyen, Tarik Sammour, Hidde Kroon, Sam Parvar and Nagendra Dudi-Venkata. Our thanks also to Anne Collins from Trajan Scientific and Medical, and Andrew Abell.”

Informal feedback from attendees at the event was that they had experienced a highly informative and rewarding two days of translational workshop activity.

Note – a brief visual video of the event has been produced by Dr Johan Verjans here.

Below – Dr Johan Verjans CNBP AI at SAHMRI discusses the need to work closely with clinicians to successfully translate research into the clinical environment.

Fresh Science with a nano-diamond twist

20 June 2018:

Approximately 100 patrons at the Belgian Beer Cafe in Melbourne were treated to ten researchers showcasing their science as part of the ‘Fresh Science’ initiative (Victoria), June 20th, 2018.

One of those ten researchers was CNBP student Marco Capelli from RMIT University who was a successful applicant to Fresh Science – a program that trains early career scientists on how to best communicate and present their  activity to the media and to the wider general public at large.

Studying the brain using ulta-small diamonds was the scientific narrative practiced and delivered by Marco as part of his public presentation at the Cafe.

“Fresh Science was an amazing experience,” says Marco.

“Over the course of two days, I had the chance to interact with journalists from different media (including television, radio and newspaper) as well as representatives from industry and policymakers. From each of them, I learned how to tailor my scientific exposition to a variety of audiences, how to highlight my research and how to successfully pitch my ideas.”

“I particularly enjoyed testing myself in front of professionals from each field as well as receiving immediate feedback on my presentation skills. Fresh Science is an experience I strongly endorse to any ECR researcher (PhD students included) looking to improve their communication skills.”

Below: CNBP PhD student Marco Capelli talks nano materials at the Belgian Beer Cafe in Melbourne. Image courtesy of Science in Public (Fresh Science).

Fluorescence microscopy gets the BAMM treatment!

7 June 2018:

A novel technique developed by researchers at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP) will help shine new light on biological questions by improving the quality and quantity of information that can be extracted in fluorescence microscopy.

The technique, ‘bleaching-assisted multichannel microscopy’ (BAMM) takes a current long-standing weakness of fluorescence microscopy – photobleaching – and turns it into a strength that improves imaging output by up to three times, with no additional hardware required.

Reported in the journal ‘Biomedical Optics Express’ (lead author Dr Antony Orth, CNBP Research Fellow at RMIT University), BAMM will help researchers gain biological insights into the intricate processes taking place within living cells. This includes the interplay between proteins and molecules which have the potential to impact a wide range of health areas from fertility, to pain, to heart disease and more.

Publication authors: Antony Orth, Richik N. Ghosh, Emma R. Wilson, Timothy Doughney, Hannah Brown, Philipp Reineck, Jeremy G. Thompson, and Brant C. Gibson.

Read more about this innovative technique from our media release or access the publication online.

Below – This figure shows the information-rich cellular images made possible by using the newly reported BAMM technique. The ‘Original’ image shows cells containing multiple fluorescent targets, all having similar colours. This results in a monochrome image. With BAMM, photobleaching rates are colour coded red, green and blue for visualisation, so that each fluorescently labelled structure can be identified even though the fluorophore’s native colour information was never used.

CNBP Alternate Science Careers workshop

4 June 2018:

Although many students commence their doctoral studies with the aim of being a university academic, statistics show that the percentage who become professors is only around 0.5%.

The RMIT node of the CNBP hosted an alternative careers workshop with five experts who shared their pathways from doctoral studies into the wider world.

Elliot Taranto  completed a PhD in immunology and biology and now works in a technical and sales role at Olympus; Margie Beiharz completed a PhD in zoology and is now a freelance editor; Matthew Lay (pictured top left) undertook his PhD in semiconductor device fabrication and now works as a patent attorney; Shane Huntington’s PhD was in photonics and he is now the Deputy Director of the Melbourne Academic Centre for Health; and Victoria Coleman’s PhD was in semiconductor physics and she now leads the Nanometrology Section at the National Measurement Institute.

The panelists shared their pathways and the opportunities for research, interaction and fulfillment that their careers provided. Often stressed was how the ‘soft skills’ of writing, speaking, and collaboration played key roles in their success.

The session was chaired by CNBP Chief Investigator Andy Greentree.

Below – CNBP’s A/Prof Brant Gibson (L) and Prof Andy Greentree (R) flank guest speakers at the CNBP Alternate Science Careers workshop held at RMIT University.

Extending depth of field of MOF imaging probes

2 March 2018:

A fully computational method for extending the depth of field of multicore optical fibers (MOF) imagers has been demonstrated by CNBP researchers in a new paper published in the journal ‘Optics Express’. The work shows that the depth of field can be more than doubled for certain spatial frequencies. Lead author on the publication is CNBP Research Fellow Dr Antony Orth from RMIT University.

Journal: Optics Express.

Publication title: Extended depth of field imaging through multicore optical fibers.

Authors: Antony Orth, Martin Ploschner, Ivan S. Maksymov, and Brant C. Gibson.

Abstract: Compact microendoscopes use multicore optical fibers (MOFs) to visualize hard-to-reach regions of the body. These devices typically have a large numerical aperture (NA) and are fixed-focus, leading to blurry images from a shallow depth of field with little focus control. In this work, we demonstrate a method to digitally adjust the collection aperture and therefore extend the depth of field of lensless MOF imaging probes. We show that the depth of field can be more than doubled for certain spatial frequencies, and observe a resolution enhancement of up to 78% at a distance of 50μm from the MOF facet. Our technique enables imaging of complex 3D objects at a comparable working distance to lensed MOFs, but without the requirement of lenses, scan units or transmission matrix calibration. Our approach is implemented in post processing and may be used to improve contrast in any microendoscopic probe utilizing a MOF and incoherent light.

Add-on clip turns smartphone into fully operational microscope

19 February 2018:

Australian researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP) have developed a 3D printable ‘clip-on’ that can turn any smartphone into a fully functional microscope.

Reported in the research journal ‘Scientific Reports’, the smartphone microscope is powerful enough to visualise specimens as small as 1/200th of a millimetre, including microscopic organisms, animal and plant cells, blood cells, cell nuclei and more.

The clip-on technology is unique in that it requires no external power or light source to work yet offers high-powered microscopic performance in a robust and mobile handheld package.

And the researchers are making the technology freely available, sharing the 3D printing files publicly so anyone – from scientists to the scientifically curious – can turn their own smartphones into microscopes.

Lead developer and CNBP Research Fellow at RMIT University, Dr Antony Orth (pictured), believes the technology has immense potential as a scientific tool, one that is ideal for use in remote areas and for field-work where larger standalone microscopes are unavailable or impractical.

“We’ve designed a simple mobile phone microscope that takes advantage of the integrated illumination available with nearly all smartphone cameras,” says Dr Orth.

The clip-on has been engineered with internal illumination tunnels that guide light from the camera flash to illuminate the sample from behind. This overcomes issues seen with other microscopy-enabled mobile phone devices says Dr Orth.

“Almost all other phone-based microscopes use externally powered light sources while there’s a perfectly good flash on the phone itself,” he explains. “External LEDs and power sources can make these other systems surprisingly complex, bulky and difficult to assemble.”

“The beauty of our design is that the microscope is useable after one simple assembly step and requires no additional illumination optics, reducing significantly the cost and complexity of assembly. The clip-on is also able to be 3D printed making the device accessible to anyone with basic 3D printing capabilities.”

A further advantage noted by Dr Orth is that the clip-on enables both bright-field and dark-field microscopy techniques to be undertaken. Bright-field microscopy is where a specimen is observed on a bright background. Conversely, dark-field shows the specimen illuminated on a dark background.

“The added dark-field functionality lets us observe samples that are nearly invisible under conventional bright-field operation such as cells in media,” he says. “Having both capabilities in such a small device is extremely beneficial and increases the range of activity that the microscope can be successfully used for.”

Dr Orth believes the potential applications for the smartphone microscope are enormous.

“Our mobile microscope can be used as an inexpensive and portable tool for all types of on-site or remote area monitoring.”

“Water quality, blood samples, environmental observation, early disease detection and diagnosis—these are all areas where our technology can be easily used to good effect.”

Dr Orth sees significant benefit in developing countries for the device.

“Powerful microscopes can be few and far between in some regions,” says Dr Orth. “They’re often only found in larger population centres and not in remote or smaller communities. Yet their use in these areas can be essential—for determining water quality for drinking, through to analysing blood samples for parasites, or for disease diagnosis including malaria.”

To ensure that this technology can be utilised the world over, the files for the 3D printing of the microscope clip-on are being made freely available. They are available for download at the CNBP web site – http://cnbp.org.au/online-tools.

“Ideally, a phone microscope should take advantage of the integrated flash found in nearly every modern mobile, avoiding the need for external lighting and power. It should also be as compact and easy to assemble as possible. It is this design philosophy that inspired us in the development of this add-on clip,” says Dr Orth.

The new phone microscope has already been tested by Dr Orth and his CNBP colleagues in a number of areas, successfully visualizing samples ranging from cell culture, to zooplankton to live cattle semen in support of livestock fertility testing.

Below: Cells being viewed by an add-on clip that turns a smartphone into a fully operational microscope.