Photograph used with kind permission of Chris Taylor
Biomedical science at scale
Gift from The Frances and Augustus Newman Foundation for new laboratory in the Department of Chemistry – The Sir Rodney Sweetnam Laboratory for Micro and Nanoscale Biomedical Science.
The Frances and Augustus Newman Foundation, which supports projects in the field of medical research in the UK and overseas, has given £250,000 to the Department of Chemistry for the refurbishment and naming of a new microfabrication laboratory – The Sir Rodney Sweetnam Laboratory for Micro and Nanoscale Biomedical Science. A renowned surgeon and pioneer in the research and management of bone tumours, the late Sir Rodney Sweetnam (Peterhouse 1945) was also chairman of the Frances and Augustus Newman Foundation, and played a key role in securing the Foundation’s support for 'Next Generation Fellowships' within the University’s Chemistry Department from 2006–2015.
Taking a successful partnership to the next level
The Foundation’s latest gift extends its partnership with the University taking the innovative microscale science it has enabled to date through its Next Generation Fellowships to the next level. The newly refurbished 80m² microfabrication laboratory, to be completed in 2017, will be located on the ground floor of the main Chemistry Building. Designed specifically for micro and nanofabrication and microfluidics work, the laboratory will play a critical role in helping to increase fundamental understanding of the folding, assembly and misassembly of proteins. When these occur in a pathological context, these interactions can lead to diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and cancer, and are implicated in immune system responses and the associated rejection of transplants.
At the forefront of discoveries in protein science
The Sir Rodney Sweetnam Laboratory will be occupied by Professor Tuomas Knowles’ group which, over the last five years, has designed and developed new tools based on microfluidic systems and physical chemistry concepts for biomolecular and biomedical applications. State-of-the-art equipment and specific infrastructure for micron and submicron dimensions will increase the accuracy with which the group can test its instrumentation and support the continued development of novel microfluidic devices. These devices will be used in collaborative work both within Cambridge in the Centre for Misfolding Diseases and overseas, and will allow the group to continue at the forefront of discoveries in protein science and its implications for health and disease. These discoveries have the potential to radically change the way surgeons and doctors diagnose and treat diseases by providing insights into the manner in which proteins interact with other proteins to generate function and malfunction.
Protein misfolding disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases and type II diabetes, which are progressive and still incurable, are rapidly becoming the greatest threat to modern healthcare. More than 40 million people worldwide suffer from dementia and over 300 million people from type II diabetes. See more about the Centre for Misfolding Diseases
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