Winners receive complimentary registration to a relevant RMS meeting where they will be presented with their award. They may be invited to produce an article for infocus magazine.
Christian has made outstanding scientific achievements applying or developing new forms of light microscopy.
Among his many achievements, he has developed a new kind of optical microscopy technique to investigate molecular dynamics of lipids in the plasma membrane of living cells - with unprecedented spatial resolution. He has applied Fluorescence-Correlation-Spectroscopy (FCS) on a super-resolution Stimulated-Emission-Depletion (STED) microscope, which enabled the disclosure of anomalous molecular diffusion dynamics previously hidden by the limited spatial resolution when FCS is employed on conventional diffraction-limited microscopes.
A unique feature of the STED microscope is that its observation spot (and thus spatial resolution) can be tuned by the intensity of the additional STED laser of that microscope. By probing the diffusion characteristics of molecules for different STED laser powers (i.e. different observation spot sizes) it is possible to decipher the diffusion mode of the molecules under study, revealing hindrances with molecular scale resolution. In recent years Christian has significantly improved this STED-FCS approach, now allowing the simultaneous observation of diffusion modes at different spatial positions. This has led him to a series of novel discoveries on the diffusion and interaction characteristics of lipids in the plasma membrane of living cells.
Christian has published many important articles in high-ranked journals (h-index 79) and has appeared as an invited and keynote speaker at multiple international conferences. In addition, his position as the scientific director of the Wolfson Imaging Centre Oxford, has brought him recognition for driving such novel advanced (super-resolution) microscopes into application and making them accessible to less-experiences users.
Christian’s achievements in applying or developing new forms of light microscopy are outstanding, as are the discoveries he has been able to make as a result this work.
Philipp is a Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oxford. Throughout his career to date, he has demonstrated remarkable ingenuity, productivity and a boldness to push the limits of what the biophysics community generally believes can be done with optical techniques. His work is opening up entirely new possibilities in the way we use light microscopy in the life sciences. After breakthroughs in spectroscopy and nano-optics, before he began his current role as a group leader, Philipp and his group have now developed a completely new way of measuring mass using a light microscope - mass photometry.
Mass photometry, the accurate and highly resolved measurement of the mass of individual biomolecules and their complexes in solution, is truly groundbreaking. It represents a single-molecule optical method that is both universal and specific - in that no labelling is required and the information obtained provides information on the identity and structure of the biomolecule. Moreover, the ability to study individual molecules removes ensemble averaging so that heterogeneity, which is of immense importance in biological function, regulation and intervention, can be directly assessed.
Since its introduction in April 2018, the group has explored the immense applicability of mass photometry for assessing sample purity for structural biology and in vitro science in general, expanded it to nucleic acids and membrane proteins, as well as demonstrating new approaches to quantifying protein-protein interactions. These studies, together with the fundamental concepts behind mass photometry, will likely make this discovery a truly outstanding one in the context of light microscopy.
These conceptual breakthroughs took place while also maximising the impact of the discovery. Only two months after the original publication, Philipp founded Refeyn Ltd. together with Justin Benesch, Daniel Cole and Gavin Young, with the mission to make the technology available to the broader research community. This demonstrates both the value of the underlying technology and a commitment to ensuring its wide dissemination and impact.
Chair of the RMS Light Microscopy Section, Professor Gail McConnell said: “It is with great pleasure that we award this medal to Philipp, whose many achievements make him uniquely suitable for the award. “He has brought forward a completely new application of light microscopy well beyond what we imagined possible only five years ago, with immense future potential in life science research and diagnostics in the future.”
Suliana Manley began her career as a group leader in a Tenure Track position, which she started in 2009 at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland. She was recently promoted to a tenured associate professorship, in 2016. She is a physicist whose research has been shaped for the past 10+ years by a strong interest in biology. Her main interest is in developing super-resolution imaging, where she has made several major contributions to the field. As a postdoctoral fellow with Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz at the NIH, she first started working in the field of super-resolution imaging. There, she developed a multiplexed single molecule tracking method, single particle tracking PALM (sptPALM), in a collaboration with Eric Betzig’s group.
At the EPFL, her group has developed several high-throughput technologies for super-resolution microscopy, including the first automation of a PALM setup to study bacterial cell cycle, and large field-of-view flat illumination. These methods have allowed important structural insights into the bacterial division machinery and revealed a novel structure formed by yeast Torc1 proteins.
Dr Huisken is an accomplished biophysical scientist who has contributed novel imaging tools that have enabled new and powerful observations of developmental and physiological processes.
Along with his co-workers, Dr Huisken introduced light sheet microscopy (or selective plane illumination microscopy) to the field of biological imaging in 2004. Since then, SPIM has replaced confocal and two-photon microscopy in many applications, and revolutionized in vivo whole embryo imaging.
Dr Huisken has pioneered sample preparation for long time lapse experiments and has expanded SPIM in a number of directions for a number of different applications, including a high-speed instrument for cardiac imaging. He has also exploited the bright-field contrast of unstained specimens to obtain in vivo tomographic reconstructions of the 3D anatomy of zebrafish.
Unlike most microscopy laboratories, each microscope that Dr Huisken builds is specifically designed to address a particular biological question that requires cutting-edge observations not possible on a commercial microscope.