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365 project captures life and work at MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in pictures


By Paul Brackley


Throughout 2019, the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) on Cambridge Biomedical Campus is posting an image a day on its website and social media channels about life and work at the LMB, both now and in the past.

Science can be very visual, and with the increasing number of different techniques available to visualise molecules, cells and organisms at increasingly higher resolution and in different ways, now is an ideal time to share some of the ground-breaking and exciting science taking place at the LMB.

The laboratory also wants to give people an insight into what it is like to work at such a world-class institute, whether in the support services or within the labs themselves. It is hoped that these images will help to inspire people, from all walks of life, about the beauty of science and about the pleasure of working in such a prestigious organisation.

The aim is to issue images that link to the history of the LMB and the science that has led to the awarding of 12 Nobel Prizes.

Here is a selection of them with the LMB's descriptions. Visit https://www2.mrc-lmb.cam.ac.uk/news-and-events/lmb-365/ to see them all.

Day 6

Day 6 of the MRC LMB 365 project. Picture: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (10188854)
Day 6 of the MRC LMB 365 project. Picture: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (10188854)

Day 6 of #LMB365 is provided by Alex Bates in the group of Greg Jefferis who are working on circuits in the brain of the fruit fly Drosophila Melanogaster. The data was first collected by Ann-Shyn Chiang’s lab in Taiwan and categorised by scientists at the LMB. The image shows over a thousand neurons from the fly's ‘instinct centre’, which is similar to the human amygdala, and how they spread across the brain.

Day 9

Day 9 of the MRC LMB 365 project. Picture: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (10188856)
Day 9 of the MRC LMB 365 project. Picture: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (10188856)

On day 9 of #LMB365 we have another stunning image by Katja Roeper in the Cell Biology Division. This shows a fly embryo viewed during early embryo development. Edges of individual cells are labelled in red, and nuclei are in blue. Drosophila is a key model organism to study fundamental aspects of biology and Katja’s group uses it to understand organ formation.

Day 14

Day 14 of the project. Picture: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology
Day 14 of the project. Picture: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology

Day 14 of #LMB365 shows a reflection of the LMB's building in the facade of the new headquarters for AstraZeneca. Members of the LMB have been eagerly watching the progress of the building over the past few years and are looking forward to welcoming them and others to the expanded Cambridge Biomedical Campus in the near future.

Day 16

Day 16 of the MRC LMB 365 project Picture: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (10188861)
Day 16 of the MRC LMB 365 project Picture: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (10188861)

On day 16 of #LMB365 Laura Pellegrini from Madeline Lancaster’s group in the Cell Biology Division has made a collage of human cerebral organoid (also known as ‘mini brains’) ventricular buds. The ventricular buds are used to study the development of human cerebral cortex - the outermost wrinkly layer that surrounds the brain which is responsible for processes including speech and decision making.

Day 30

Day 30 of the MRC LMB 365 project. Day 30 Picture: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (10188863)
Day 30 of the MRC LMB 365 project. Day 30 Picture: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (10188863)

A beautiful crisp winter morning today on the Campus with a scattering of snow. Still not enough to deter the LMB's cyclists on day 30 of #LMB365.

Day 32

Day 32 of the MRC LMB 365 project. Picture: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (10188865)
Day 32 of the MRC LMB 365 project. Picture: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (10188865)

Feeding the brain for a day at work at the LMB. Day 32 of #LMB365 shows a selection of treats available in the LMB Restaurant, including the 'famous' LMB cheese scones, that have been much loved throughout the decades and are fondly remembered by many LMB alumni. Whenever the LMB has a new chef their ability to make a perfect scone is key to their success!

Day 35

Day 35 of the MRC LMB 365 project. Picture: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (10188875)
Day 35 of the MRC LMB 365 project. Picture: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (10188875)

On day 35 of #LMB365 we bring you the first ever photo of the new LMB mascot – The LMBee. Delivery has just taken place and the LMBees are currently enjoying their view of the LMB atrium before swarming up to the restaurant in the hope of finding a new home. Tomorrow the LMBees will gather in the LMB reception from where they can be purchased.

Day 50

Day 50 of the MRC LMB 365 project. Picture: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (10188884)
Day 50 of the MRC LMB 365 project. Picture: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (10188884)

Day 50 of #LMB365 shows a spinning centrifuge exerting outward force on the samples within it. This principle is exploited by biochemists at the LMB to separate the contents within a cell by their relative size. The separated components can each be studied in detail to understand how they contribute to a cell’s function

Day 52

Day 52 of the MRC LMB 365 project. Picture: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (10188890)
Day 52 of the MRC LMB 365 project. Picture: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (10188890)

In day 52 of #LMB365 rays of light from the setting sun pierce passing rainclouds to shine brightly on the LMB. This endlessly changing view from a nearby cyclepath inspires many LMBers every morning and evening as they cycle to the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.

Day 54

Day 54 of the MRC LMB 365 project. Picture: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (10188892)
Day 54 of the MRC LMB 365 project. Picture: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (10188892)

The LMB has an excellent Technical Instrumentation Workshop which has expert skills in designing and building various items in different materials. Day 54 of #LMB365 is a 3D printed model of a dengue virus particle made out of polylactic acid for Yorgo Modis in the Molecular Immunity Unit. It was printed in two halves and put together post print and clearly shows the icosahedral symmetry of the virus. Yorgo is working on how viruses are sensed and silenced by the innate immune system and the model is a useful educational and design tool

Day 57

Day 57 of the MRC LMB 365 project. Picture: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (10188897)
Day 57 of the MRC LMB 365 project. Picture: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (10188897)

The photo for day 57 of #LMB365 is of the LMB's openSPIM light sheet microscope. This is run by the LMB's Light Microscopy Facility and has 4 different laser lines (488 nm and 640 nm pictured), dual sided illumination and temperature control it enables gentle long-term imaging. This microscope is ideal for capturing processes such as salivary gland maturation in Drosophila embryos or brain/kidney organoid development

Day 64

Day 64 of the MRC LMB 365 project. Picture: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology - W R Schafer lab, by Yee Lian Chew @wormychew #lmbworms
Day 64 of the MRC LMB 365 project. Picture: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology - W R Schafer lab, by Yee Lian Chew @wormychew #lmbworms

Day 64 of #LMB365 shows a transparent nematode worm C. elegans (and eggs), with red and green fluorescence marking different tissues in the body, including neurons in the head (middle of image). The fluorescent markers indicate where signalling molecules acting via a particular neuropeptide (red) or dopamine (green) are expressed. Fluorescent tools like these help researchers to dissect which neurons make up circuits in the brain that control the animal's behaviour.

Day 97

Day 97 of the MRC LMB 365 project. Picture: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (10188908)
Day 97 of the MRC LMB 365 project. Picture: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (10188908)

Day 97 of #LMB365 shows a precious column collection mounted on the wall of a cold room using aluminium holders designed by the LMB’s Director and made in the Technical Instrumentation Workshop. This is an essential part of the preparation of samples for the Structural Studies Division. The columns are filled with special resins that separate the injected protein samples based on their affinity for such resins, or on their charge or size. Dependent on the sample size and purification step, the columns need to be of different diameter, length and volume.

Day 105

Day 105 of the MRC LMB 365 project. Picture: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (10188913)
Day 105 of the MRC LMB 365 project. Picture: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (10188913)

Image 105 of #LMB365 shows a Lego® model of the LMB which can be found in the atrium for all to see. This was constructed in exquisite detail by Bob Senior from KJ Tait, the mechanical and electrical designers of the building. It was created for the last LMB open day in 2017 and is on long loan to the LMB.

Day 112

Day 112 of the MRC LMB 365 project. Picture: Leo Hillier / MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (10188916)
Day 112 of the MRC LMB 365 project. Picture: Leo Hillier / MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (10188916)

Day 112 of #LMB365 shows our resident LMBeekeeper carrying out his weekly checks on our two colonies of honeybees to ensure the hives are healthy. It is hoped that LMB honey will be available for sale later in the year. To follow the progress of our bees do keep an eye on their blog https://www3.mrc-lmb.cam.ac.uk/sites/lmbees/.


Day 155

Day 115 of the MRC LMB 365 project. Picture: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (10188919)
Day 115 of the MRC LMB 365 project. Picture: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (10188919)

In 1953 the landmark paper proposing the structure of DNA was published in the journal Nature. ‘We wish to suggest a structure for the salt of deoxyribose nucleic acid (DNA). This structure has novel features which are of considerable biological interest.’ Day 115 of #LMB365 shows a reproduction of the original DNA model, which can be seen in the foyer of the LMB building.

Read more

Dr Jan Löwe on the next frontier for MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge

Bacteria rule the planet - and we need to understand them, says MRC LMB director Dr Jan Löwe

Winner of Brain Prize 2018, Prof Michel Goedert, on our best hope for tackling Alzheimer's disease

Dr M Madan Babu of MRC LMB wins prize for insights into the machinery inside our cells



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