Abstract: Series 110, Lecture 1

The Harvey Lectures Series 110 (2014—2015)

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Lecture #1: Thursday, October 16, 2014 — Watch Video of Lecture

Illuminating Biology at the Nanoscale with Single-Molecule and Super-Resolution Fluorescence Microscopy

Xiaowei Zhuang, PhD

Xiaowei Zhuang, PhD

Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Professor of Physics
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Harvard University

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Dr Zhuang's Website

Dissecting the inner workings of a cell requires imaging methods with molecular specificity, single-molecule sensitivity, molecular-scale resolution, and dynamic imaging capability such that molecular interactions inside the cell can be directly visualized. Fluorescence microscopy is a powerful imaging modality for investigating cells largely owning to its molecular specificity and dynamic imaging capability. However, the spatial resolution of light microscopy, classically limited by the diffraction of light to a few hundred nanometers, is substantially larger than typical molecular length scales in cells. Hence many subcellular structures and dynamics cannot be resolved by conventional fluorescence microscopy. We developed a super-resolution fluorescence microscopy method, stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (STORM), which breaks the diffraction limit. STORM uses single-molecule imaging and photo-switchable fluorescent probes to temporally separate the spatially overlapping images of individual molecules. This approach has allowed multicolor and three-dimensional imaging of living cells with nanometer-scale resolution and enabled discoveries of novel sub-cellular structures. In this talk, I will discuss the recent technological development and biological applications of STORM.