A research consortium led by Dr Neil Kad of the School of Biosciences has been awarded £760,000 by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) for the purchase of a Lumicks C-Trap. This laboratory instrument is unique in the UK, making Kent a national facility.
This scientific instrument, which will be located in Biosciences, allows minute forces to be applied to biological systems, using several focused laser beams, whilst monitoring the effects. Such a capability will be used to answer many fundamental questions in biology, and frame new ones for future investigation.
Potential applications include studying how force affects the ability of genes to be turned on and off, as the Lumicks C-Trap system has such high resolution it will even be possible to study how individual protein molecules respond.
As this is the only instrument of its kind in the UK, Kent will become a national facility (KNOT: Kent National Optical Trapping facility), with 25% of instrument time reserved for external applications.
BBSRC capacity-building grants provide enabling infrastructure for the most cutting-edge science through an annual competition.
Dr Neil Kad, Reader in Molecular Biophysics and leader of the consortium that includes the universities of Sussex and Nottingham, said: ‘The funding of this instrument is a vital step forward in the scientific capability of investigators both at the University of Kent and across the UK. With the Lumicks C-Trap, vital questions can be answered, and the next questions can be discovered.’