A €1.47 million SFI Infrastructure Award has been granted to develop a unique facility for highly advanced microscopy in Ireland, following an application led by researchers at RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences.

The funding for RCSI (€1.1 million) will be used to purchase two super‑resolution microscopes to be housed in a new dedicated facility with expert staff.

A third instrument for correlative light and electron microscopy will be located in the core microscopy facility in the UCD Conway Institute.

Both institutions have committed additional contributions to the purchase and maintenance of the new infrastructure.

In normal light microscopy, the image resolution is limited by the wavelength of light. Super-resolution light microscopy combines a variety of scientific techniques that get past this limitation and allows clearer pictures be taken of objects that are nanometres in size (one million times smaller than a millimetre).

“For some scientific problems, you can’t solve them blindfolded. This grant from Science Foundation Ireland will allow Irish researchers to make many new insights, especially in medical and material science applications. By having the equipment in both RCSI and UCD, this will allow the pooling of expertise between the two institutions,” said RCSI Professor of Chemistry Donal O’Shea.

Professor Fergal O’Brien, RCSI Director of Research and Innovation, added, “RCSI is proud to co-fund this advanced microscopy system, which will enable our researchers to advance medical discoveries and ultimately improve patients’ health in Ireland and worldwide. I would like to thank Science Foundation Ireland and all involved with the application for making this project possible.”

Professor Donal O’Shea and Dr Ingmar Schoen led the application from RCSI in collaboration with Professor Dimitri Scholz of the UCD Conway Institute. The application was widely supported by researchers across the country from TCD, UL, UCC, TUD, MU, QUB, and UU.

“This is a very exciting development for the Irish research community, who will be able to overcome the technical limitations of existing microscopy techniques using these sophisticated instruments. Together, we will provide critical mass and expertise in a leading imaging technology that can respond to the challenges of world-class biomedical research,” said UCD Professor Dimitri Scholz.