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Vol. LXVII, No. 3
January 30, 2015
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Nobel Laureate Moerner To Speak, Feb. 5

A set of techniques known as super-resolution fluorescence microscopy has opened up a new frontier in cellular imaging. It’s now possible to make real-time observations of biological structures and processes in live cells with unprecedented detail, achieving resolutions of 20-40 nanometers (billionths of a meter) and below.

Dr. W.E. Moerner, who shared the 2014 Nobel Prize in chemistry for the development of this type of microscopy, will discuss his pioneering work in a special NIH lecture, “The Story of Single Molecules, from Early Spectroscopy in Solids to Super-Resolution Nanoscopy in Cells and Beyond.” Sponsored by NIGMS, the talk will be held on Thursday, Feb. 5 at 2 p.m. in Masur Auditorium, Bldg. 10.

Dr. W.E. Moerner, who shared the 2014 Nobel Prize in chemistry for the development of a new type of microscopy, will discuss his work in an NIH lecture.

Dr. W.E. Moerner, who shared the 2014 Nobel Prize in chemistry for the development of a new type of microscopy, will discuss his work in an NIH lecture.

Photo: Linda Cicero, Stanford News Service

Moerner was the first to detect a single fluorescent molecule. This pivotal 1989 achievement, along with his 1997 discovery of a way to control the number of molecules that are actively emitting light at one time, laid the foundation for several super-resolution microscopy techniques. With these approaches, scientists can now image individual fluorescently tagged molecules rather than collections of molecules.

Currently, Moerner’s lab is developing methods—including those known as three-dimensional super-resolution microscopy and orientation microscopy—to extract even more information from each single molecule. The lab is also using super-resolution imaging techniques to explore protein localization patterns in bacteria, study protein aggregation processes in Huntington’s disease, define the behavior of signaling proteins in the primary cilium and observe the dynamics of DNA and RNA in cells.

Moerner is the Harry S. Mosher professor of chemistry and a professor, by courtesy, of applied physics at Stanford University. He received some of the first grants in NIGMS and other NIH cellular imaging initiatives that encouraged the application of physical science tools and approaches to biological studies. Moerner earned B.S. degrees in physics and electrical engineering and an A.B. in mathematics from Washington University in St. Louis in 1975. He received a Ph.D. in physics from Cornell University in 1982.

Among Moerner’s other major honors are the Wolf Prize in Chemistry and the Peter Debye Award in Physical Chemistry. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2001 and to the National Academy of Sciences in 2007.

For more information or for reasonable accommodation at the lecture, contact Jilliene Drayton at draytonj@nigms.nih.gov or (301) 496-7301.


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