On Thursday, June 21, students, postdocs and principle investigators alike gathered at MPFI for an all-inclusive experience diving into the world of nanoscale resolution. STED super-resolution microscopy is an advanced imaging technique capable of peering into cells and revealing the finest of details with remarkable clarity and resolution. Prior to STED’s development, light microscopes were once thought to have an insurmountable resolution limit of about 200nm (roughly 1000x thinner than a strand of human hair). STED was the first to go where no conventional light microscope could, breaking the resolution limit and establishing an entire new field of optics.

With the goal of showcasing everything this powerful technique has to offer, the one-day, advanced workshop featured lectures by STED experts, open demos with Abberior STED microscopes, hands-on, guided experiments and even informal meet and greet opportunities with Dr. Hell and guest lecturers. Opened to all life science researchers, over 85 scientists and trainees from across the country came to participate and learn how STED microscopy can dramatically improve biological research.

Kicking off the lecture portion of the workshop was Dr. Hell, inventor of STED and a founder of AIA, a spin off company that has transformed Hell’s technique from a sprawling, complicated optical setup into easy to use, adaptable commercialized microscopes. Dr. Hell’s keynote was an inspiring look into the groundbreaking technique that would earn him the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Hell explained how perseverance through adversity can be critical for a scientist — he himself faced lack of funding and support, as well as peers who doubted the validity of his technique. Hell noted that the greatest advice he could give was to “Do what you like, what you are passionate about” because such adversity is encountered in any career, so why not love what you are doing?

Following Hell, MPFI’s resident microscopy specialist Dr. Nicolai Urban gave a lecture highlighting STED’s powerful and novel applications in neuroscience. From AIA, Dr. Christian Wurm offered critical insights into preparing superior biological samples for STED imaging and Dr. Karsten Bahlmann described how AIA’s STEDYCON and Expert line microscopes could facilitate striking advances in biomedical research.

Dr. Bahlmann, Head of Commercialization at AIA, closed his lecture by noting that “With super-resolution becoming more affordable, efficient and easy to use, conventional microscopy may soon fall out of favor. Scientists from all specializations can benefit immensely from the finer detail and wealth of information that can only be achieved with super-resolved technologies like AIA’s STED microscopes.”

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