Published: 22-10-2012 00:00 | Updated: 13-02-2014 15:39

Microscope expert at SciLifeLab wins Lennart Nilsson Award

Hans Blom PhD, associate professor of biological physics at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) and facility manager at the Science for Life Laboratory in Stockholm, is to receive SEK 100,000 for studying and evaluating the nanoSIMS and STORM microscope techniques at Harvard University, Boston USA.

Technical advancements in microscopy are driven by the need of biomedical research to study cells and proteins down to molecular level. This has led to the development of super-resolution microscopy, which produces images with resolutions of up to fifty or so nanometres. The technique is being used today at SciLifeLab, where Dr Blom is an application expert with responsibility for the super-resolution microscope.

"These days we have very powerful microscopes, but their continuing development keeps opening new doors," he says. "Harvard University is heading this development on several microscope technological fronts, so I'm delighted to have this opportunity."

NanoSIMS is a form of mass spectrometry imaging tool. Researchers at Harvard University have recently shown how it can be used on a nanometre scale to image and measure protein synthesis, localise active RNA and relate this to the function of cells and tissue. Another interesting new technique is STORM, a form of optical microscopy similar to the already established PALM technique currently in use at the Science for Life Laboratory.

"These new microscope techniques have an extremely high resolution, which makes them very attractive to us," says Dr Blom. "It would mean a great deal to medical research in Sweden if we could one day have them at SciLifeLab."

The Lennart Nilsson Award was inaugurated in 1998. It is the world's most distinguished award in the field of scientific and medical photography, and is presented annually in honour of the legendary Swedish photographer, Lennart Nilsson. The university's president, Professor Harriet Wallberg-Henriksson, serves as chairperson of the Lennart Nilsson Award Foundation and takes part in the selection of the prize winner, who is awarded SEK 100,000 (approx. USD 15,500). This year is the first time that the prize is awarded as a stipend. The award ceremony will be held in the Berwald Hall in Stockholm on 30 November to coincide with Karolinska Institutet's installation ceremony for new professors.