“With the research that we’re proposing and the equipment that we’ll be amassing, we hope to take cellular research into a new era by visualising the biological chemistry of the cell membrane, so helping to unravel the mysteries of life,” explains Andrew Ewing from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Gothenburg.

With the help of groundbreaking technology, Ewing’s research team plans to build a new centre of excellence. The immediate aim is to combine two new, technically advanced methods of chemical imaging, thus creating a unique opportunity to compare the molecular composition of nanometre-sized areas of cells and their function. This will have synergistic effects needed to better understand how cells work and continue unravelling the mysteries of life.

Collaborations on molecular mechanisms
With the technology in place, there will be many potential areas of application for further research. The new equipment will also add new dimensions to a number of established collaborations on molecular mechanisms.

Six such collaborations are already planned for the new centre: imaging molecules to understand the chemistry of the cell surface during division, imaging and understanding the role of fats and fat-like substances (lipids) in the cell nucleus, imaging and determining lipids and small molecules in cell samples to better understand allergies and cancer, imaging lipids and glycolipids to understand metabolic diseases, imaging molecules to understand Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, and developing a network in a synthetic brain cell in 3D. These projects will be run in collaboration with a number of leading researchers in Sweden, Germany and the USA.

The research grant comes from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, established back in 1917 and one of the largest sources of research funding in Sweden.

The new centre will also receive funding through a research grant of almost SEK 25 million recently awarded to Andrew Ewing by the European Research Council (ERC). The ERC is charged with supporting leading research within the EU, and its principal objective is to support top-flight, creative scientists and encourage them to be more daring in their research, opening the opportunity for them to take risks.

For further information, see: 2.5 million euro for research into the chemistry of the brain

Andrew Ewing, professor, Department of Chemistry, University of Gothenburg
+46 (0)31 786 9113
+46 (0)76 117 2293

Portrait: Andrew Ewing. Photo: Malin Arnesson