Throughout 2019 we will be posting an image a day on the LMB’s 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. We also want 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. We also aim to issue images that link to the history of the LMB and the science that has led to the awarding of 12 Nobel Prizes.
We hope you enjoy the project.
Drosophila Melanogaster is a key model organism used across the LMB to study fundamental aspects of biology. This image for day 142 of #LMB365 shows a Drosophila head imaged by Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) taken by Emmanuel Derivery in the LMB’s Cell Biology Division. Fly hairs, which are actually mechanosensory organs, are a well-established system to study cell fate determination following asymmetric cell division, and as such help our understanding of asymmetric cell fate determination during stem cell division in humans.
This photo of the LMB by Ivan Rosa e Silva for day 141 of #LMB365, was taken from Hobson’s Park at Great Kneighton to the West of the Campus. Totalling around 120 acres, the park contains woodland and four ponds.
On day 140 of #LMB365 we have a picture by Katja Röper in the Cell biology Division. This image shows a confocal section of a mouse lung bud at embryonic day 12. Nuclei of cells are labelled in blue, the microtubule cytoskeleton in green and cell-cell junctions in red. The Röper lab studies how important tubular organs such as the lung form during development.
Max Perutz was born on this day in 1914, in Vienna, Austria. He was the founder and first Chairman of the LMB. On day 139 of #LMB365, Max is photographed on the day he was awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for the studies of the structures of globular proteins. The photograph was taken by LMB student, Hans Boye. Max died on 6 February 2002, in Cambridge.
The LMB is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) via the Medical Research Council. The Chair of UKRI, Sir John Kingman, recently visited the LMB to find out more about the exciting science being carried out here. This included a visit to the EM facility where he was introduced to the wonders of this technology by Lori Passmore and Chris Russo where this picture for day 138 of #LMB365 was taken.
In this image for day 137 of #LMB365 seam cells are highlighted in green in the middle of a young (larval) C. elegans worm. The seam cells act like stem cells and during larval development these cells undergo asymmetrical divisions and either self-renew or differentiate to various cell types.
Day 136 of #LMB365 shows Ananth Kumar from Lori Passmore’s Group in Structural Studies submitting his PhD thesis titled "Architecture of eukaryotic mRNA 3' end processing machinery and insights into the mechanism of polyadenylation" at the new "red" door with his colleagues James Stowell and Ana Casañal. Now just the small matter of the viva to come…
On day 135 of #LMB365 we have a 1970s drawing showing the hybrid atomic orbitals of the lysozyme system, to highlight Michael Levitt’s landmark paper on the theoretical studies of enzymic reactions, published on this day in 1976. This paper reported the first computerised model of an enzymatic reaction, a development that allowed any kind of chemical reaction to be simulated involving any kind of molecule, irrespective of size. For this work Michael shared the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Reference: A. Warshel & M Levitt, Theoretical studies of enzymic reactions, Journal of Molecular Biology 103: 227-249.
All neat and tidy on day 134 of #LMB365. They look like they could be scientific samples waiting to be used, but these are storage tubes for different size drill bits, all carefully arranged in the LMB’s Technical Instrumentation Workshop. There are thousands of different sizes - imperial, metric, number and letter and the workshop get through a huge amount of drill bits, hence the well organised and labelled spares. Storing the drill bits in tubes was devised way back in the 1970s and each successive Head of the Workshop has inherited and carried on with the tradition.
Whilst the sun sets in the background of this photo by Shahana Ahmed, the conscientious LMB researchers continue in their pursuit of discovery on day 133 of #LMB365. Every sunset brings the promise of a new day, new opportunities and even more experiments!
The LMB’s Tissue Culture Lab prepares big batches of Earle's Balanced Salt Solution for trypsin. The solution seen being prepared on day 132 of #LMB365 will be used all around the building to dissociate adherent cells from the vessel in which they are being cultured.
With funding from the MRC specifically aimed at the wellbeing of its staff, a full-size outdoor table tennis table was acquired by the LMB in 2017. It is frequently in use, as seen here on day 131 of #LMB365, even in adverse weather. It promotes social interaction and, depending on the opponents, an element of competitiveness. It challenges your brain and your body but the fun of playing can be the perfect stress-reliever in between experiments.
This picture for day 130 of #LMB365 by Thomas Mund shows a confocal image of the GFP-stained cytoskeletal remnants of a HeLa cell, an immortal cell line used in scientific research at the LMB. Sometimes beauty lies beyond what you are originally looking for…
Day 129 of #LMB365 shows Michael Levitt when he joined the scientific staff at the LMB in 1974. Michael was born on this day in 1947, in Pretoria, South Africa. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2013 for the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems
Day 128 of #LMB365 shows Bob Horvitz when he joined the LMB as a postdoctoral visitor in 1974. Bob was born on this day in 1947, in Chicago, USA. He shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2002 for the discoveries concerning the genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death in C. elegans
As the first outpatients are welcomed to the new state-of-the-art Royal Papworth hospital here on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, on day 127 of #LMB365 we share a photo of our new neighbours with the LMB building behind. Welcome to the campus!
Day 126 of #LMB365 was taken ahead of a recent meeting where members of HR, Finance, the Divisional Administrators and other support staff get together to share news and discuss ways to improve how things work across the LMB to support our scientists. Their invaluable support helps ensure the smooth running of the LMB, allowing scientists to concentrate on what they do best…
LMB scientists use mouse models of human diseases in their research where there are no suitable alternatives. The image for day 125 of #LMB365 shows a genetically modified mouse with a black and white patchwork coloured coat. This mouse is known as a chimera and results from the injection of genetically modified embryonic stem (ES) cells derived from a black mouse, into a donor blastocyst from a white wild type mouse. This technique provides LMB researchers with physiologically relevant mouse models of human diseases, including Alzheimer’s, cancer and asthma, with the aim of identifying a new therapy or cure.
The image for day 123 of #LMB365 shows the Ty3 retrotransposon capsid. Like retroviruses, Ty3 builds a capsid, replicates its nucleic acid, and inserts itself into new positions in the genome, but unlike a virus it never leaves the yeast cells in which it is found. Ty3 and the human virus HIV-1 diverged from a common ancestor that existed before the divergence of plants and animals 1.5 billion years ago. Surprisingly, Ty3 is also similar to a neuronal protein called Arc1. John Briggs’ group in the Structural Studies Division collaborated with the Sandmeyer lab who discovered Ty3 in the 1980’s, to determine the structure of the Ty3 capsid using cryo-electron microscopy and found that it has many similarities to the capsid of HIV-1. https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2019/04/26/1900931116
On this day in 1970, a landmark paper showing the 3D reconstructions of spherical viruses was published. On day 122 of #LMB365, an electron micrograph of human wart virus is shown, alongside a version with its surface lattice superimposed on top. Aaron Klug led a group of LMB scientists applying the technique he had developed just a few years early, of computing 3D density maps from electron micrographs, to spherical viruses. The tecnique produced clear reconstructions of the surface structures of viruses, and paved the way for 3D imaging by electron microscopy. Reference: R. A. Crowther, Linda A. Amos, J T. Finch, D J DeRosier, A. Klug. Nature 226: 421-425.
On day 121 of #LMB365 we have a 1970s image of the nematode worm, C. elegans, to highlight Sydney Brenner's landmark paper on the genetics of Caenorhabditis elegans which was published in May 1974: Genetics 77: 71-94. "The ease of handling of the nematode coupled with its small genome size suggests that it is feasible to look for mutants in all of the genes to try to discover how they participate in the development and functioning of a simple multicellular organism." For this work, Sydney shared the 2002 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine
On day 120 of #LMB365 we find some LMB PhD students “relaxing” by bouldering at a local climbing centre after a long day in the lab. Abilities varied, but they all enjoyed themselves and ended up with a well-deserved pint in a local pub.
Day 119 of #LMB365 shows blue, yellow-green, and red lasers hitting the sample stream in the MoFlo cell sorter within the Flow Cytometry facility. As cells flow through the laser beams at this interrogation point their fluorescence is measured and the cells are sorted accordingly. This technique is used by many people across the LMB to select cells of interest for further study.
The small soil worm C. elegans is used by Mario de Bono’s group in the Cell Biology Division to study proteins that control behaviour. To extract these proteins, worms are frozen into balls by dropping them into liquid nitrogen and then ground into a fine powder. Day 118 of #LMB365 is a photo of some frozen "worm balls" containing over 1 million frozen worms.
Most steps of X-ray crystallography are enabled with safe and straightforward automated protocols. This is particularly true for screening protein crystallisation conditions. On day 117 of #LMB365 a young visitor (Julia, aged 6) was desperate to try our equipment, although she expected to reveal the mythical powers of the crystals rather than solving their structure.
This image for day 116 of #LMB365 is a dish of negatively stained grids, discarded after use in the general-use Spirit, which is a 120 kV transmission electron microscope (TEM). Samples are applied to the grid, then surrounded by heavy metal stain that blocks the electrons, thereby enhancing contrast.
On this day 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 (D.N.A.). 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
Day 114 of #LMB365. Ferris Beuller would never go to the lab on such a spectacular spring day! But if you don’t have access to a 1961 Ferrari GT, you might as well be in the LMB doing experiments.
The external mounds around the LMB were originally planted with 20 different wild flora species to produce a grassland meadow mixture. The original planting mixture has now been taken over by species from the surrounding area and the variety of plants is changing, including these lovely cowslips in the LMB's drainage ditches for day 113 of #LMB365
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/
The LMBee has been exploring the LMB’s canteen and, as well as finding lots of sweet Easter treats, has found some new friends. They would like to wish everyone a Happy Easter on day 111 of #LMB365.
On day 110 of #LMB365 Soudabeh Imanikia in the Neurobiology Division took advantage of fluorescently labelled Caenorhabditis elegans worms to make them spell our name! C. elegans has been a model organism used at the LMB for many decades since Sydney Brenner, Bob Horvitz and John Sulston used it to study development.
The image for day 109 of #LMB365 is provided by Ben Sutcliffe in the LMB’s Light Microscopy Facility. When they need to align the laser on the custom mSPIM light sheet microscope they use a solution of highlighter pen in water so that they can see the beam.
On day 108 of #LMB365 a new turbomolecular pump is installed on a new thin film instrument in the lab. Much like a jet engine, the “turbo” pump contains a turbine that spins at very high speed (60,000 rpm) to suck the air out of the instrument. They run 24/7 for years on end to keep our electron microscopes and instruments running.
Georges Kohler was born on this day in 1946, in Munich, Germany. On day 107 of #LMB365 he is pictured with César Milstein. Georges and César were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1984, for their work on the principle for production of monoclonal antibodies
On this day in 1999, Venki Ramakrishnan started his group at the LMB. On day 106 of #LMB365, Venki is pictured giving a lecture to his colleagues at LMB, in front of a schematic of the structure of ribosome. Venki helped to determine the structure and for this shared the 2009 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. In his Nobel biography, From Chidambaram to Cambridge: A Life in Science, Venki commented, “So only a few months after my move to Cambridge, with the rest of my lab still in Utah, we had made a major breakthrough. When I revealed our findings at the triennial ribosome meeting in Denmark in June, I could sense the shock in the audience, especially since virtually none of them knew we were working on the problem. Soon afterwards, our work was published in Nature in August 1999 with much fanfare.”
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 104 of #LMB365 shows Greg Winter at the entrance to the LMB. Greg was born on this day in 1951. He studied for his PhD at the LMB and after postdoctoral research, returned here as a Programme Leader in 1981. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2018 for his work on phage display of peptides and antibodies
This image for day 103 of #LMB365 shows the denticles on the ventral side of a Drosophila embryo cuticle taken by differential interference contrast (DIC) microscopy. The denticles form segmentally repeated belts in the embryo and can have different sizes, shape and orientation. The pattern results from the spatially organised activation of several signalling pathways during embryogenesis and this can serve as a physiological readout for changes in signalling pathways including planar polarity. Mariann Bienz’s group in the LMB’s PNAC Division is using this to study Wnt signalling components which are involved in the development of cancer.
The photo for day 102 of #LMB365 is of the new power distribution units (PDUs) in the server room. The PDUs are part of the significant electrical infrastructure required and can supply 200 kW of power to the new computing equipment. They are configured to provide redundancy should one system ever develop a fault the power can be taken from the stand-by feed.
On day 101 of #LMB365 a display of photographs in a meeting room charts the 10 former Heads of the Structural Studies Division: Max Perutz, John Kendrew, Hugh Huxley, Aaron Klug, Richard Henderson, Nigel Unwin, Tony Crowther, Kiyoshi Nagai, Venki Ramakrishnan and Jan Löwe. This impressive list includes 5 Nobel Laureates and 4 LMB Directors. Imagine having a meeting here with this eminent group looking down upon you.
Neurons (brain cells) communicate by passing electrical signals to each other across connections called synapses. By simulating the activity of individual synapses on a neuron, seen as deflections in this image for day 100 of #LMB365, Jake Watson in Ingo Greger’s group in Neurobiology can investigate the properties of information transfer between neurons.
Day 99 of #LMB365 is a journal cover design by Lesley McKeane in the LMB’s Visual Aids team. The selective coupling of G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) to specific G proteins is critical to trigger the appropriate physiological response. This image represents this selective binding using the analogy of multiple keys (receptors) opening the same lock (G protein, orange).
Our building is comprised of more than 25,000 square metres of glass, inside and out. All this glass allows for stunning views of our surroundings and on day 98 of #LMB365, we look past the Director's suite at the sun setting over the nearby nature reserve.
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.
Jim Watson was born on this day in 1928. He joined the MRC Unit in Cambridge in 1951, where he met and began working with Francis Crick. He was just 25 when together they revealed the structure of DNA, for which they were awarded the 1962 @NobelPrize for Physiology or Medicine. This photo of Jim, on day 96 of #LMB365 was taken by research student Hans Boye in a corridor of the old LMB in 1962
On day 95 of LMB365 we have a picture by Katja Röper in the Cell Biology Division. This image shows the flat epithelial patch of cells in the Drosophila embryo that will form the tubes of the salivary glands over a the time span of a few hours. The cell membranes are labelled and the image shows cell outlines at three different depths through the cells, each depth in a different shade of colour. This visualisation therefore allows an appreciation of 3D cell shapes.
Day 94 of #LMB365 image by Philipp Schlegel (Jefferis lab, Neurobiology Division) shows olfactory projection neurons in the poppy seed-sized brain of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. Each dot is one of ~57k axonal presynapses coloured by neuron type. This data was produced through EM reconstruction in collaboration with Davi Bock (Janelia Research Campus) and is used to study circuits for instinctive olfactory behaviour.
The LMB Craft and Chatter group pictured here for day 93 of #LMB365 meet on a monthly basis. Projects currently on the go include a knitted fox cowl, a series of crocheted wreathes and knitted baby's cardigan destined for an overseas charity. As well as being one of the many social activities taking place at the LMB, there is increasing evidence of the physical and mental health benefits of crafting, and members of the group value this "time-out" from their day-to-day routines and the positive impact on their well-being.
This picture for day 92 of #LMB365 shows the cable drums that were used to pull the new steel wire armoured electrical cables into place to support the LMB's new server room facility that is under construction. The project is due to finish late Spring / early Summer and will double the Scientific Computing capability within the LMB.
An image of a new specie of fruit fly, Drosophila trumpitana, found at the LMB by Ghislain Gillard for day 91 of #LMB365.
The LMB cares for the environment and has an active environmental committee consisting of scientific and support staff and students. We have various trees and flowering plants that the LMB bees can enjoy. Strolling to work on a sunny spring day allowed Soudi Imanikia to capture these lovely cherry blossoms outside the front of the building for day 90 of #LMB365.
The image for day 89 of #LMB365 is provided by Oleksiy Kovtun. This EM image shows phage particles tangled in bacterial flagella. Bacteria are used as a protein expression host to allow the purification of large amounts of the protein of interest, and their remnants sometimes can be found in protein specimens, like this one.
As the end of the financial year looms ever closer, LMBee has been lending a hand in the LMB’s finance office on day 88 of #LMB365. Hopefully LMBee has a good grasp of numbers…
This image for day 87 of #LMB365 shows a small portion of a neuron (brain cell). The spines coating the dendritic projections are the sites of synapses, through which the cell communicates with other neurons. The work in Ingo Greger’s group in the Neurobiology Division aims to understand the mechanisms through which the strength of communication at these sites is controlled, to allow information storage in the brain.
On day 86 of #LMB365, we celebrate LMB Nobel Laureate John Sulston who was born on this day in 1942. In 1969 he joined Sydney Brenner’s group at the LMB. In 2002 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his discoveries concerning the genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death in C. elegans. “I just loved watching the cells. It’s a beautiful thing to do and a challenge in the jigsaw-puzzling sense to get it all”.
Sometimes after a long day in the lab you are lucky enough to experience a beautiful sight as you leave the building. This photo for day 85 of #LMB365 was taken by Lesley Drynan as the sun set for another day and the multi-coloured light was reflected in the glass façade of the LMB’s building.
The LMB's new sub-cellular light sheet microscope allows for high speed 3D imaging of cells and small organisms with minimal damage and loss of fluorescent glow. For day 84 of #LMB365 a green laser is focussed to form a thin light sheet of illumination in the centre of the photo. A small silver spoon holds the sample and moves it through the sheet at high speed. Thanks to the gentleness of this technique, scientists can study a range of cells and small organisms for hundreds of time points before the signal is lost.
LMB Nobel Laureate John Kendrew was born on this day in Oxford in 1917. In 1946 he became Max Perutz’s first research student, and helped found the MRC Unit a year later. In 1962 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his studies of the structures of globular proteins. He died in Cambridge on 23 August 1997. For day 83 of #LMB365, this photo from the late 1950s shows John lecturing next to his large 'sausage' model of myoglobin, the protein that stores oxygen in muscles
Using cryo-EM, researchers in the groups of Sjors Scheres and Michel Goedert determined the atomic structure of tau filaments that were extracted from the brain of an individual with Alzheimer’s disease. The resulting structure is shown on day 82 of #LMB365. Understanding the molecular mechanisms of tau aggregation in neurodegenerative disease may be important in finding a cure.
This image for day 81 of #LMB365 is from Yara Sanchez-Corrales in Katja Röper’s group in the Cell Biology Division. It is of a Drosophila melanogaster embryo showing apical membrane in the whole embryo (green). The 3D cell shape of some cells can be appreciated using a cytoplasm marker (magenta). For more information about 3D shape, check their recent paper @eLife: https://elifesciences.org/articles/35717
LMB scientists often give talks to explain their research for members of the public. For day 80 of #LMB365 we see Liz Miller contributing to the Cambridge Science Festival and describing how cells police their proteins to make sure that they are assembled correctly
This drawing for day 79 of #LMB365 is by Paul Margiotta #piljammin in the LMB’s Visual Aids team. It is an abstract interpretation of the LMB's use of X-rays to reveal hitherto undefined protein structures overlaid with the period feel of the film used for this early work.
LMB scientists are taking part in the Cambridge Science Festival. On day 78 of LMB365 we see some of the new model proteins that visitors made while learning about synthetic biology at the Guildhall on Saturday.
Electron cryo-microscopy (cryo-EM) is used across the LMB to determine protein structures. Part of the process for data collection involves screening grids in the electron microscope to check the grids have been produced correctly and the samples can be used. Sadly this is not always the case and on day 77 of #LMB365 “Sam” identified that the ice was too thin to be useful. To cheer himself up he wrote his name in the holes of the EM grid by melting the ice with the electron beam.
Day 76 of #LMB365 is an image of synchronous nuclear divisions in the fruit fly embryo captured by David Salvador-Garcia in Simon Bullock’s lab in the LMB’s Cell Biology Division. David is studying how chromosome segregation is co-ordinated by the molecular motor dynein.
On day 75 of #LMB365 we celebrate Daniela Peris @ddanielaperis finishing her PhD viva. During her PhD, Daniela was a member of Gonville and Caius College @caiuscollege, so she was presented with a wall plaque of the College crest. She was also a keen rower for her College (wining superblades in Bumps), and was constantly cold when on the river, so she was given a woolly hat showing the University of Cambridge crest. Daniela was a Milstein Scholar and worked on the in vitro diversification of antibodies using the DT40 chicken cell line.
Day 74 of #LMB365 is of some hand-painted Russian dolls attempting bench work. They were a gift from Evgeny Zatulovskiy to Rob Kay upon his retirement. Evgeny was a PhD student with Rob on a Herchel Smith Fellowship and is currently a postdoc in San Francisco. The dolls show Rob, David Traynor and Evgeny himself (dolls 2, 3 and 4), then a Dictyostelium fruiting body, migrating slug and amoeba. Obviously, not to scale!
Day 73 of #LMB365 brings you a group photograph of the MRC Council who held their recent meeting here at the LMB. The MRC Council is responsible for advising the MRC Executive Chair and making decisions, as delegated to it by the UKRI Board, on scientific, research and innovation matters.
This image for day 72 of #LMB365 shows the body wall muscle structure of the worm C. elegans using an F-actin dye. Soudi Imanikia in Rebecca Taylor’s group in the Neurobiology Division studies age-related muscular degeneration as part of their studies on neurodegeneration. Worms are fixed prior to the experiment and F-actin is used to observe the muscle fibres.
Day 71 of #LMB365 shows what happens when you accidentally put a denaturing gel in the freezer rather than the fridge. Denaturing gels are used to separate double stranded DNA into single stranded DNA. KJ Patel's group in the PNAC Division is studying DNA crosslinking agents and the repair of cross-linked DNA. They use the gels to confirm the presence of cross-linked DNA which won’t be able to separate into its individual strands and will consequently run slower through the gel.
On day 70 of #LMB365 we find the LMB PhD students celebrating a night out at a formal hall at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. The Graduate Student Association organises several opportunities for socialising like this throughout the term.
Day 69 of #LMB365 brings you the atrium of the LMB on a Sunday. Although all seems quiet, the labs are alive with activity as the progress of science marches on.
As predicted #LMBees are exploring the building and have made it as far as the LMB's Media Prep Department. As can be see on day 68 of #LMB365, they searched through pre-prepared solutions until they found something sweet. Hopefully they have left some for the scientists...
On day 67 of #LMB365 we celebrate International Women’s Day and the start of British Science Week with an image featuring some of the women working in science across the LMB.
This image for day 66 of #LMB365 shows a C57BL/6 mouse egg being fertilised by sperm from a genetically modified mouse, during an IVF (in vitro fertilisation). The spermatozoa bind to the outer membrane of the egg, often causing the egg to rotate as they attempt to penetrate it. This is sometimes known as the “fertilisation dance”. The LMB shares genetically modified mouse strains with other research establishments in the UK and around the world. In order to minimise the transportation of live mice, and limit any potential stress caused to the animals, cryopreserved sperm is often shared between establishments, rather than live mice. This is an example of 3Rs (Replacement, Reduction and Refinement). The LMB is committed to upholding the highest standards of animal welfare.
On day 65 of #LMB365 the LMB joins Freda in 'Getting behind the Daffodil' during March to raise funds for the Marie Curie Daffodil Appeal because behind every daffodil, there is a story. Find out how much we raise at the end of the month…
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. This was one of the winners in the 2018 Image Competition.
Even the flooring used in the LMB’s atrium has a scientific story to tell about geology and evolutionary biology as it is littered with beautiful fossils. This ammonite for day 63 of #LMB365 was spotted by our Head of Health & safety outside her office. The floor is made from Jura limestone tiles, 600mm x 1000mm x 30mm thick from a quarry in Bavaria.
When troubleshooting problems with the LMB’s fluorescence microscopes the Light Microscopy Facility sometimes use lens tissue as a test sample since there is always some to hand. Normally they use scientific cameras to take images, which do not see the whole image that comes out of the microscope body and therefore crop the image to a square (or rectangle). On this occasion Jon Howe decided to take an image down the eyepiece with his phone camera allowing him to capture the whole field of view - hence the round image for day 62 of #LMB365.
Patterns and shapes in everyday objects can be seen on day 61 of #LMB365 which is a photo of some of the R8 milling collets in the LMB's Technical Instrumentation Workshop. These hold milling cutters concentric to the spindle in a very tight grip. They are used daily and are now mainly metric by size, although a set of imperial collets are still in use.
This image for day 60 of #LMB365 shows a handful of pseudocoloured hippocampal neurons (brain cells) that have been specifically targeted with DNA expressing a fluorescent protein which has allowed Jake Watson to visualise them. In Ingo Greger’s group in the Neurobiology Division they modify specific cells in order to understand how synapses, the sites of communication between cells, transmit information.
On day 59 of #LMB365 we have a close-up of a large scale oligonucleotide synthesiser used by John Sutherland’s group in the LMB’s PNAC Division to make sufficient amounts of RNA oligonucleotides for NMR experiments to investigate the sort of chemistry they think might have taken place on early Earth.
Pictured for day 58 of #LMB365 are the basal stress fibres of Caco-2 cells, a model for the epithelial cells that line the human colon. These stress fibres are made of bundles of the cytoskeletal protein actin (red) as well as the motor protein myosin (yellow) and vinculin (blue) that links these fibres to anchoring points in the plasma membrane. Jesse Peterson in Katja Röper’s lab in the Cell Biology Division uses these cells to study how tissues like the colon epithelium establish and maintain their critical barrier function.
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.
On day 56 of #LMB365 ultraviolet rays from a special lamp shine brightly on frozen samples sitting on a bed of dry ice. In this biochemical experiment, the ultraviolet light induces crosslinks between a protein of interest and other unknown proteins surrounding it. This is being used by Manu Hegde’s group in Cell Biology to study how newly made proteins are guided to the correct location and assembled properly. This experiment is searching for the “guides” that direct this important cellular process.
On day 55 of #LMB365 we bring you brown stained microglia by Jennifer Macdonald from the lab of Michel Goedert @MichelGoed in the Neurobiology Division. Microglia are cells within the brain and spinal cord whose role is to survey their environment and eat up cellular debris or dead neurons. They are incredibly dynamic and respond to changes by adopting different states. This picture is that of a brain in which many clumps or aggregates consisting of a protein named tau, though not made visible here, are present. Some argue the state adopted by microglia plays a crucial role in the outcome of a variety of neurodegenerative diseases, including tauopathies, diseases in which tau protein forms clumps. Here an array of morphologies can be seen, probably reflecting the various states microglia adopt. Are all these microglia in states harmful to neurons or are some of these in a state that is helping neurons clear or cope with tau aggregates?
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 @yorgomodis 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
Liz Miller’s lab in the Cell Biology Division uses yeast cells to study the fundamental mechanisms of transport between cellular organelles. Electron microscopy is employed to observe how organelle membranes reshape into transporters called vesicles and travel to their destination. This image on day 53 of #LMB365 is a glimpse inside a cell of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, with the nucleus in the middle, endoplasmic reticulum cisternas following the cell contour and through the cytoplasm, some lipid reservoirs called lipid droplets and thousands of ribosomes crowding the cytoplasm while synthesising proteins.
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 @CamBioCampus
Day 51 of #LMB365 shows the embryonic germ cells of the mouse. Using immunofluorescence and confocal microscopy Ross Hill (@rosshill92) visualises the developing testis of a mouse embryo where the cells that ultimately produce sperm in adult mice are stained green. These cells are unique in that they are solely responsible for passing genetic information from one generation to the next. These cells are of particular interest to scientists in the group of Gerry Crossan in the PNAC Division who study DNA repair in germ cells.
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
The LMB’s Graduate Student Association meets weekly for tea and cake in the canteen. Day 49 of #LMB365 shows a recent gathering of PhD students who are clearly enjoying the sugar rush before returning to their experiments.
To understand processes at the molecular levels, basic components of the cell can be purified, crystallised and then visualised with X-rays to allow their molecular structure to be determined. These crystals, photographed for day 48 of #LMB365 by Malte Gersch, contain a protein that is regarded as a potential drug target against Parkinson’s disease.
On day 47 of #LMB365 the LMB’s IT team have provided a photo of one of the 12 LMB comms rooms they maintain. These rooms deliver network services to scientists’ desktop machines via approximately 10,000 data outlets across the building.
The DNA cycle path in Cambridge, which starts near the LMB, depicts the sequence of the BRCA2 gene, which is involved in some forms of breast cancer. In the lab, we use CRISPR to cause targeted errors in specific genes to study their function. We call these errors 'indels'. Day 46 of #LMB365, a photo taken by Andrew Beale, shows an 'indel' in the BRCA2 gene.
Day 45 of #LMB365 is a ventricular zone of a cerebral organoid labelled for neuronal progenitors and cells in division. This was taken by Laura Pellegrini from Madeline Lancaster’s group in the Cell Biology Division. The cerebral organoids represent a useful tool to model human brain development and to understand neurogenesis.
Max Perutz's landmark paper on the structure of haemoglobin was published on this day in 1960. Day 44 of #LMB365 shows the model built to represent this work. The red discs represent the haem groups, which carry the oxygen in blood. Haemoglobin has four haem groups. Despite this breakthrough, in the paper Max noted, "little can be said as yet about the relation between structure and function. Whatever interaction between the haem groups exists must be of a subtle and indirect kind that we cannot yet guess." For this work Max was awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Reference: M.F.Perutz, M.G.Rossmann, A.F.Cullis, H.Muirhead, G.Will, A.C.T.North. Structure of haemoglobin. A three-dimensional Fourier synthesis at 5.5-Angstroms resolution, obtained by X-ray analysis. Nature 185: 416-422, 13 February 1960.
Day 43 of #LMB365 is a stunning aerial shot from the west of the Cambridge Biomedical Campus taken one weekend (notice the lack of cars) with the LMB in the foreground. You can clearly see our new neighbours, AstraZeneca and Royal Papworth, with the original Addenbrooke’s hospital site in the background.
Day 42 of #LMB365 is a stained wing disc of the fruit fly Drosophila by Lisa Heinke from the group of Mariann Bienz in the PNAC Division. Wing discs are larval structures that will give rise to the wing of the adult fly. The Bienz lab is researching the gene/protein wingless, an important developmental regulator with a role in cancer, to find interactors of wingless as potential targets in medical treatment. Candidates are used to generate mutant clones in the wing disc that are stained with green fluorescent protein (GFP, shown in green) to allow them to be visualised under a confocal microscope. If wingless and the candidate interact, wingless expression (red stripe) is altered. DNA is stained in blue to show the cell nuclei of the wing disc.
The “Intellectual Centre of the Laboratory” is represented in this drawing by Paul Margiotta #piljammin in the LMB’s Visual Aids team for day 41 of #LMB365. Max Perutz, founder of the LMB, felt it was important that there was somewhere in the Lab for people to go and socialise, and to get good, reasonably priced food. Researchers were encouraged to visit the Canteen and it became the place to share ideas. Some people even credited this as one of the contributing factors to the LMB’s success.
Over the past few years members of the LMB have been watching the development of the new AstraZeneca building with interest. We have a camera on the LMB's roof which has been taking timelapse photos since the project started. On day 40 of #LMB365 we have two photos captured by the camera a few years ago and again this month. It appears that the local birds are equally as interested in the work!
Day 39 of #LMB365 is a photograph of Rob Kay in Cell Biology who has recently stepped down as a Group Leader at the LMB after 34 years. He is pictured with his retirement gift - a microscope he brought with him to the LMB back in 1984, which has now had a beautiful box made of Afromosia (African teak) to store it in. The box was made by the LMB's Technical Instrumentation Workshop using old lab benches salvaged from the old LMB building many years ago. Rob will be continuing to work as an Emeritus Scientist within the LMB.
On day 38 of #LMB365 we bring you the beginning of life. Early 4-8 cell mouse embryos, as seen under a light microscope, will be left to develop until they form blastocysts. Ross Hill (@rosshill92) will then derive mouse embryonic stem cell (ESC) lines that have the unique potential to form all cell types in an adult organism. In the group of Gerry Crossan in the PNAC Division ESCs are used to study DNA repair in germ cells, the specialised cells responsible for passing on genetic information to the next generation.
On day 37 of #LMB365 we have an update on the LMB honeybee colonies. This thermal image was taken recently of one of our colonies, showing a good heat signature low down in the hive. You can even see some bees flying in and out, so it looks like they are overwintering well at present. Hopefully they will be ready to produce some LMB honey later in 2019 – follow their progress at https://www3.mrc-lmb.cam.ac.uk/sites/lmbees/
Day 36 of #LMB365 shows flow cytometry tubes waiting to be analysed. Flow cytometry is used to measure and analyse multiple physical characteristics of individual cells in suspension. This particular experiment from Julian Sale’s lab in the PNAC Division is evaluating protein expression changes on the surface of cells in response to chemotherapeutic drugs that interfere with DNA replication. It forms part of a project funded by the Blue Skies collaboration with AstraZeneca.
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
The LMB has a dedicated NMR facility which is heavily involved in answering structural and biophysical questions that can't be tackled by other techniques. Day 33 of #LMB365 brings you a two-dimensional projection of an NMR experiment to assign the backbone signals of the plastic eating enzyme PETase in collaboration with Prof. John McGeehan from University of Portsmouth. The aim of this study is to search for scientific solutions to the plastic pollution crisis by improving the efficiency and stability of this novel enzyme.
Day 34 of #LMB365 is just another day in the life of the LMB Estates & Facilities team and raises the question, how easy is it to change light bulbs at 6 metres up in the LMB's atrium? Simple, the LMB Estates & Facilities team will build the scaffold, change the bulbs and dismantle the scaffold before you can drink your coffee!!!
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!
The LMB’s first, purpose built laboratory was officially handed over on 29 January 1962, and all 43 scientists had moved in by the middle of February. Day 31 of #LMB365 shows the building in 1962, on the 'new' Addenbrooke's site, off Hills Road, Cambridge. The facilities on site were very limited at the time, but there was a 'shop' from which you could buy your daily newspaper
A beautiful crisp winter morning today on the Campus @CamBioCampus, with a scattering of snow. Still not enough to deter the LMB's cyclists on day 30 of #LMB365
Day 29 of #LMB365 is a black and white photo of one of the LMB's service towers that make up the iconic architecture of the LMB building on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. This photo was the winner of the 2018 LMB Image Competition and is now proudly displayed in the Director's office - we'll bring you more of the winning images over the year
The central nervous system of a larval vinegar fly, Drosophila Melanogaster, is the subject of day 28 of #LMB365. In this image, by Alex Bates in the group of Greg Jefferis in the Neurobiology Division, the larva is expressing a green fluorescent protein in its newly formed neurons, highlighting tracts in which bundles of neurons project together. Tracts can be used as landmarks, by which different neurons and brain regions can be identified
A little piece of history was made recently, when the Science Museum formally took possession of an original 'Joyce-Loebl Microdensitometer Mark 4' from the LMB. This equipment was designed in the 1970s, with significant input from the LMB's Electronics and Technical Instrumentation Workshops, as a precision scanning instrument to measure and record spatially resolved optical density in photographic film. Developed and updated until the 2000s, the microdensitometer has only relatively recently been superseded by newer technology. This photo for day 27 of #LMB365 shows the handover of the electronic control unit to the Science Museum by Richard Henderson.
Day 26 of #LMB365 shows two scientists hard at work looking for a clear result from a late night Western blot. Sometimes data interpretation requires a bit of contrast coming from the light outside the LMB
Day 25 of #LMB365 brings you a close up of the tiny fruit fly Drosophila Melanogaster. These are used to study development in the group of Katja Roeper in the Cell Biology Division. These fluorescent flies in their cage lay GFP-expressing embryos which are collected for further analysis
Day 24 of #LMB365 is titled 'Cells within Cells' and was taken by Leo Hillier in the LMB's Visual Aids team. It shows light from the glass side of the building reflected in the stainless steel façade of the plant towers. During the construction of the building the planning department had a concern that the towers would be too shiny so made the contractor build a 20 foot high section that was then dangled from a tower crane whilst the planners viewed it from the Gog Magog Hills south of the Campus to see how much the sun reflected off it!
On day 23 of #LMB365 we have a photo taken by a member of the LMB Stores team showing a member of the Structural Studies Division growing mammalian cells for the production of a human glycoprotein. Work is carried out in a Class II safety cabinet to ensure a sterile environment for the work. This work is looking at the molecular basis of the synthesis of hormones which play an essential role in metabolism and development
As is sadly a regular event at the LMB, we often have to say goodbye to friends and colleagues as they move on to new roles. Day 22 of #LMB365 brings you a group shot taken at the party to celebrate Angelica Mariani leaving the LMB to take up her new position at Illumina. Angelica has been working as a postdoc in John Sutherland's group in the PNAC Division investigating the chemical origins of molecular biology. We wish her success in her future career.
On day 21 of #LMB365 we bring you a Max Perutz Word Cloud. Max Perutz was the founder of the MRC Unit in Cambridge, that became the LMB. He was the first Chairman of the LMB and won the 1962 Nobel Prize @NobelPrize, jointly with John Kendrew, for their work on the structure of proteins. Max determined the structure of haemoglobin, the protein that stores oxygen in blood
The first research undertaken at the MRC Unit in Cambridge, that later was renamed the LMB, was the work to determine the structure of proteins. Here, on day 20 of #LMB365, is the model of the first protein whose structure was determined: myoglobin. Myoglobin is an oxygen storing protein found in muscles, in particular in ocean and diving mammals, such as whales. This model, on display in the LMB Atrium, was made for LMB scientist and Nobel Laureate, John Kendrew @NobelPrize
Day 19 of #LMB365 brings a DNA fibre assay from the group of KJ Patel in the PNAC Division. Living cells are treated with two kinds of DNA building block chemicals, which they incorporate into any actively replicating DNA. The DNA from these cells is then spread on glass slides and antibodies are used to label the replication tracts where the chemical building blocks were used for DNA synthesis (shown in green and blue) and the rest of the DNA, including that which wasn’t replicating at the time of treatment (shown in pink). This technique is used to study dynamics of the DNA replication fork, such as in the context of DNA repair defects
Day 18 of #LMB365 shows pronuclear injection of a transgenic DNA solution into a 0.5 day fertilised mouse egg. The egg is held in place onto a pulled glass holding pipette by suction. Pronuclear microinjection is one of the methods used to produce new transgenic mouse strains, which LMB scientists can use to study human diseases, and potentially identify new targets for treatments.
Day 17 of #LMB365 brings you the sculpture 'What Mad Pursuit' by Kindra Crick @K_Crick. Known locally as the 'blue helix', the sculpture depicts the DNA double helix structure. Kindra, the granddaughter of Francis Crick, one of the LMB scientists who discovered the DNA structure in the 1950s and who won the 1962 Nobel Prize @NobelPrize for the discovery, creates art that gives visual expression to the wonder and process of scientific inquiry. Part of the design on Kindra’s sculpture represents the blackboard drawings of Francis, which he created to help explore and solve his scientific ideas
On day 16 of #LMB365 Laura Pellegrini @laupellegrini from Madeline Lancaster’s group @MinibrainLab in the Cell Biology Division @CellBiol_MRCLMB has made a collage of human cerebral organoid ventricular buds. The ventricular buds are used to study the development of human cerebral cortex
Day 15 of #LMB365 brings you a very satisfying photo from Andrew Carter's @Carter_Lab group in Structural Studies. The set of tubes contains the inner protein contents of cells which have been spun at very high speeds. It is a bit like breaking open an egg and separating the yolks from the whites but under very high centrifugal forces. In order to spin these tubes at such speeds they need to be perfectly balanced with each other resulting in a beautiful pattern of the inner contents of cells layered on top of each other
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 @CamBioCampus in the near future
On day 13 of #LMB365 we celebrate another of the LMB's Nobel Laureates @NobelPrize. Born on this day in 1927 in Germiston, South Africa #OTD, Sydney Brenner was, jointly with Bob Horvitz and John Sulston, awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2002 for his discoveries concerning the genetic regulation of organ development in C. elegans
When DNA is damaged the consequence can be mutation which can drive cancer. Fortunately, our cells have repair mechanisms that can fix damage in order to protect the cell. KJ Patel's group in the LMB's PNAC Division studies these cellular processes by deleting a target gene to reveal its role in repair; if a gene is needed for repair, the cells will form fewer colonies. On Day 12 of #LMB365 we show towers of plates containing such colonies before they are counted by a project student from Cambridge University @Cambridge_Uni
John Sutherland's group in the PNAC Division is trying to recreate the steps that led to life and took place on Earth 4.5 billion years ago. In day 11 of #LMB365 we see a pair of flasks in which components of potentially primitive genetic materials have been made
On day 10 of #LMB365 we have an image taken from the LMB terrace located at roof level which has spectacular views over the Cambridge Biomedical Campus @CamBioCampus. On what was a cold and bright day, not a day to stay outside very long without a good reason, Benedicte Recolin @BediRecolin was able to capture a bright moon trying to make its way up while the sun hadn’t yet set. As a result, she enjoyed staring at a teeny tiny white ball floating in the sky and showing up between the LMB’s chimneys
On day 9 of #LMB365 we have another stunning image by Katja Roeper @katjaroeper in the Cell Biology Division @CellBiol_MRCLMB. This shows a Drosophila embryo viewed during the process of dorsal closure. The cell-cell adhesion molecule Cadherin is labelled in red, the LIM-domain protein Zasp52 is labelled in green, 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
Orbital lights in the LMB Library @LMB_Library for day 8 of #LMB365, welcoming scientists, students and staff to a quiet and relaxing part of the building where they can find resources and write up papers and thesis away from the buzz of the labs
On day 7 of #LMB365 we celebrate one of the LMB's Nobel Laureates @NobelPrize. Sir John Walker was born on this day in Halifax, Yorkshire in 1941. He was awarded the 1997 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his work on the elucidation of the enzymatic mechanism underlying the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP)
Day 6 of #LMB365 is provided by Alex Bates @as_bates in the group of Greg Jefferis @gsxej 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.
On Day 5 of #LMB365 we have a surface view of a Drosophila embryonic blastoderm provided by Ghislain Gillard @GhislainGillard in the group of Katja Roeper @katjaroeper in the Cell Biology Division @CellBiol_MRCLMB. During early development, the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) embryo is a syncitia, meaning that it contains many nuclei in a common cytoplasm. These nuclei then migrate toward the surface of the embryo, where membranes will be built around them to form individual cells with a single nucleus, in a process termed cellularisation. This image represents an embryo after this step of cellularisation, viewed from the top. Each roundish structure corresponds to a single cell containing a single nucleus (not visible here). The membranes are stained for several proteins, one of them, Actin (in magenta) being essential for this cellularisation to occur
Microscopes at the ready on day 4 of #LMB365. These microscopes are used in the Cell Biology Division @CellBiol_MRCLMB for looking at Dictyostelium discoideum, a species of soil-living amoeba, which is one of the model organisms used at the LMB. This area of research focuses on how cells drink and move: macropinocytosis and chemotaxis
Day 3 of #LMB365 we bring you an image of the multicellular organism Caenorhabditis elegans provided by Soudabeh Imanikia @Simanikia in the Neurobiology Division. With fewer than 1000 cells and a transparent body, it is possible to follow the entire process of embryogenesis in the tiny oval-shaped eggs “live” inside the body of the worms!!! This worm has a fluorescent-green gut to allow the @TaylorLabLMB to follow changes during ageing without the need for dissection and a red pharynx used as a co-injection marker to show the plasmid has successfully integrated in the worm
On Day 2 of #LMB365 we have a beautiful image by Katja Roeper @katjaroeper in the Cell Biology Division @CellBiol_MRCLMB showing an epithelial Caco2 cell monolayer labelled for a tight junction protein in blue and nuclei in red. Her lab uses this model to understand how cell surface receptors affect epithelial integrity
As day dawns over the New Year, the LMB celebrates a year of life and work in images. This is Day 1 of #LMB365 - see more every day throughout 2019 as we bring you amazing images of our science and the people that make the LMB tick