The Life Sciences Section was formed to represent all aspects of the use of the microscope in cell biology. Although it continues to promote the science of the microscopical localisation of substances in cells and tissues, it is now focused on cell biological aspects of the subject. The special interests of the section include the use of the microscope to study the behaviour of cells and the behaviour of ions, molecules and organelles within living cells.
Other science section
The Section has two aims:
- To provide an interdisciplinary forum to promote the use and advancement of microscopy in cell biology. This includes the imaging and quantification of the structure, location and composition of components important to cell behaviour.
- To represent the interests of those using the microscope for cell biology in the UK and internationally by liaising with National and International Societies with similar and overlapping objectives.
Areas in which the Section have a strong interest include:
- The study of living cells, either expressing recombinant fluorescent probes (e.g. the green fluorescent protein) or loaded with vital fluorescent dyes (e.g. ion-sensitive dyes), in order to analyse molecular and organelle dynamics and signalling events.
- The exploitation of established and emerging imaging and quantification techniques involving conventional microscopy, confocal microscopy, low light detection and multi-photon microscopy, together with newer imaging methods such as FRET, BRET, FLIM, FRAP and FLAP; and the use of a range of microscopically useful probes including fluorescent and bioluminescent ion indicators, fluorescent protein-based biosensors, FlaSh probes, nanodots and nanoprobes.
- Localisation of nucleic acids using labelled probes (in situ hybridisation) and enzymes by their actions on artificially applied substrates (enzyme histochemistry).
- Identification of cell constituents with visually-detectable labelled antibody/antigen reactions (immunocytochemistry).
Meetings, Courses and Workshops
The Section organises meetings, courses and workshops throughout the year to encourage education and discussion both on theoretical and applied aspects of the use of microscopy as it relates to cell biology and its interface with molecular biology.
Life Sciences Medal
The aim of the award is to celebrate and mark outstanding scientific achievements applying microscopy in the field of cell biology. The award is open to researchers who have run their own research lab for less than 10 years and will be awarded once every two years at the RMS Microscience Microscopy Congress (mmc). More information about the
The Pearse Prize
The recipient of the Pearse Prize is decided by The Life Sciences Committee. The prize is awarded to a scientist who has made a significant contribution to histochemistry and life sciences and is still active in their field. To read more, visit here.
Download the Life Sciences Section Handbook
Dr Theresa Ward
Life Sciences Section Chair
London School of Hygeine & Tropical Medicine
Theresa teaches on the MSc Immunology of Infectious Diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and is an active RMS member. She obtained her first degree in Biochemistry and Genetics from Nottingham University and her DPhil from the University of Sussex where she studied membrane trafficking in fission yeast. She then worked in the laboratory of Dr Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz at the National Institute of Health in the USA. She was awarded a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship in 2002. Her particular interest is in integrating confocal microsocopy technology and advanced cell and biological techniques to investigate the processes involved in B cell activation and proliferation.
Dr Claire Wells
Life Sciences Section Vice Chair
King's College London
Claire's laboratory is interested in how cancer cells are able to dissociate from the primary tumour, invade the surrounding tissue and subsequently metastasise to distal sites. They use a lot of microscopy in the work, including confocal, TIRF and FRET in addition to live cell imaging to investigate the role of PAK family kinases in cancer cell migration, adhesion and invasion. Claire co-organised the 2012 RMS Abercrombie meeting and is involved in a number of RMS events. She is the life sciences representative on the RMS Outreach committee and has been working with local primary school children bringing microscopy into the classroom.
Dr Steve Thomas
Life Sciences Section Deputy Chair
University of Birmingham
Steve is a Lecturer in the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, College of Medical and Dental Sciences. His interest is in using imaging approaches to understand the cytoskeletal organisation of platelets and their precursor cell the megakaryocyte, and how this regulates platelet production and function. He has a background in plant cell biology and made the move to studying the mammalian cytoskeleton during a postdoc with Prof Laura Machesky. Steve’s recent focus has been on applying new advances in fluorescence microscopy, including TIRF, super-resolution and light sheet microscopy to study how the actin cytoskeleton is required for protrusion of proplatelets through blood vessel walls during platelet formation, and in help platelet aggregates adhere and resist shear forces in blood flow.
Dr Jacquelyn Bond
University of Leeds
Jacquie is a Senior Lecturer in the Leeds Institute of Biomedical and Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health based at St James’s University Hospital. Her research group uses imaging approaches to investigate genes and proteins involved in mitosis, which when mutated cause Autosomal Recessive Primary Microcephaly (MCPH). The group use live cell imaging, confocal, super resolution and high-content high-throughput microscopy to identify and quantitate changes in mitotic spindle orientation, microtubule and actin organisation and cell cycle progression in patient cells and modified cancer cells. Jacquie’s interest in cell biology and imaging has led to her developing a high-throughput high-content imaging bio-screening facility at Leeds, which screens whole and partial genome siRNA/miRNA libraries and small molecule libraries to identify components of biological/disease pathways, therapeutic targets and novel therapeutic drugs. Currently she is the Academic Lead for imaging for the SCIF Flow Cytometry and Imaging Facility, University of Leeds, which for imaging encompasses a number of widefield, live cell and confocal imaging systems and the bio-screening service.
Dr Steve Briddon
University of Nottingham
Steve is a Principal Research Fellow in the Institute of Cell Signalling, School of Biomedical Sciences. His interest is in using imaging approaches to understand the molecular pharmacology and organisation of G-protein coupled receptors. These are a large family of cell surface proteins, which are targets for many currently used drugs. With a background in pharmacology and cell signalling, Steve’s focus since arriving in Nottingham in 2000 has been on applying microscopical techniques, such as fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, confocal and wide-field fluorescence microscopy and TIRF, to study how GPCRs are compartmentalised in the cell membrane, and how this affects their pharmacology.
Professor Susan Brooks
RMS-Wiley Book Series Editor
Oxford Brookes University
Susan has been involved with the RMS since winning an RMS prize for young scientists giving their first public scientific talk in 1985. Her research uses different types of microscopy -- standard light and fluorescence, confocal and electron microscopy - to study cancer biology. She is passionate about science education and teaches on a range of undergraduate and postgraduate cancer and cell biology courses. She has been an organiser of the RMS Cell Imaging Techniques course since 1996. She has authored and edited half a dozen books and is the RMS-Wiley handbook series editor.
Dr Emily Eden
Life Sciences Representative infocus Editorial Board
University College London
Emily completed her PhD at Imperial College, within the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre where she studied hereditary hypercholesterolaemia and endocytic trafficking of the LDL receptor. She moved to the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology in 2006, using light and electron microscopy to study intracellular trafficking and signal regulation of EGF receptor. Emily was awarded an MRC New Investigator Research Grant in 2014 to establish her own group within the Institute of Ophthalmology. Her current research focus is the biology of contact sites that form between ER and phagosome membranes in retinal pigment epithelium and their role in phagocytic trafficking pathways. During her time at UCL Emily has gained extensive experience in a wide range of electron microscopy techniques, including conventional, immuno and 3D-EM.
Prof Jan Faix
Hannover Medical School
Professor Jan Faix is Professor of Cell Biology in the Institute of Biophysical Chemistry at the Hannover Medical School in Germany. He obtained his diploma in Biology at the University of Regensburg and then moved to the Max-Planck-Institute for Biochemistry in Martinsried near Munich for his PhD and postdoctoral time to study the function of cell adhesion and actin-binding proteins in cell motility, cytokinesis and development using genetic and biochemical tools as well as by widefield and confocal imaging. After a two year stay abroad at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, USA he returned back to Munich in 1999 and began study actin assembly by Ena/VASP proteins and formins. After moving to his current location in Hannover in 2005, he began to explore total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy (TIRFM) to visualize actin-assembly and disassembly with purified proteins in real time on the single filament and single molecule levels. He is continuously acting as ad hoc-reviewer for leading journals in the field and for international grant agencies. In 2007, he became editorial board member for the journal “Cytoskeleton”. Additionally, he is involved in organizing courses and summer schools on confocal microscopy and TIRFM imaging.
Dr Sam Peel
I am an Associate Principal Scientist currently working within the Functional Genomics team at AstraZeneca in Cambridge, UK. My current role is centred around the use of genetic (including CRISPR reagents) and other perturbants to interrogate complex biology and identify new targets for the treatment of different diseases. I have a particular interest in the application of confocal fluorescent microscopy to develop high content, phenotypic cell & tissue based imaging assays for target identification and validation. Before joining AstraZeneca in 2010, I held a postdoctoral research position at the University of Nottingham where my work focussed on cell signalling in airway smooth muscle. I have a PhD in cell signalling from the University of Nottingham and a BSc in Pharmacology from the University of Bath.
Dr. Imogen Sparkes
University of Bristol
She received a BA in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge, and a PhD in plant biology from the University of Leeds. From there she moved to Oxford Brookes University to gain expertise in live cell imaging with Prof Chris Hawes. In 2012 she accepted a lectureship position at the University of Exeter, and in 2017 moved to the University of Bristol as senior lecturer. Her microscopy work has been recognised by the Linnean Society resulting in the Trail-Crisp award in 2016, and the young scientist of the year award from the SEB in 2006. Currently her research is focused on determining the molecular and biophysical processes that govern organelle movement and interaction in plant cells. These dynamic events are dissected using a combination of molecular cell biology with a range of imaging techniques including conventional confocal, TIRF, spinning disc, FRET-FLIM and optical tweezers.
Dr Ferran Valderrama
St George's University
I am a cell biologist with research interest in cell polarity and migration in the physiological context of cancers of epithelial origin (particularly prostate cancer). Our laboratory has been developing 3D cell culture models aiming to recapitulate the early events observed in the glandular structures of the prostate that lead to prostate cancer. Using epifluorescence and confocal microscopy in live and fix specimens we aim to understand how changes in cell polarity and cell migration lead to early disruption of the epithelial organization of the glands (intraepithelial neoplasia) and subsequent proliferation and migration towards the lumen (intraluminal proliferation). We believe that cytoskeleton-adaptor proteins, such as the Ezrin-Radixin-Moesin family, may have an important role in controlling these processes.
Since 2013, I am also the academic director of the Image Resource Facility at St George’s University that holds a light microscopy section including widefield, confocal and light-sheet imaging systems as well as an electron microscopy section.
Dr Liam Rooney
Early Career Committee Chair & Life Sciences Section Early Career Representative
Liam is currently a Post-Doctoral Research Associate at Heriot-Watt University. After obtaining a BSc(Hons) in Cell and Molecular Biology, his research has focused on the spatiotemporal mechanisms and behaviours of bacteria. Liam completed an interdisciplinary PhD in 2020, where he worked with Gail McConnell and Paul Hoskisson at the University of Strathclyde. As part of his PhD Liam discovered three-dimensional motility behaviours exhibited by the predatory bacterium, Myxococcus xanthus, using a novel multi-wavelength interference method; additionally, he identified a system of previously unobserved functionalised channels in large E. coli communities using the Mesolens, which were used for nutrient acquisition and dissemination in dense microbial aggregates; and he also developed and characterised a 3D transparent soil system for bacterial culture which was compatible with optical microscopy. At Heriot-Watt, Liam is currently investigating the mechanisms of the bacterial Type VI Secretion System in interkingdom interactions using super-resolution and single molecule localisation microscopy. Liam is the early career representative on the RMS Life Sciences Section committee, and also sits on the RMS Early Career Section committee.
The 2020 AGM of the Life Sciences Section of the Royal Microscopical Society will take place virtually on 16 November 2020. The day will also include a number of talks given by the Mid-Career Award winners.
All the Society’s AGMs are free to attend for both members and non-members.
If you would like to make a committee member nomination, or if you are interested in joining any of the committees in the future, please contact Allison Winton.
More information can be found on the event homepage - Microscopy: Advances, Innovation, Impact 2020.
The 2019 AGM of the Life Sciences Section of the Royal Microscopical Society took place on Tuesday 2 July during mmc2019.Download the 2019 Life Sciences Section AGM Minutes