10/14/2014

Nobel Prize Awarded to Beiersdorf Cooperation Partner

Beiersdorf cooperation partner Dr. Stefan Hell, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen together with Eric Betzig and William Moerner from the U.S. has been awarded with the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his groundbreaking invention of STED Microscopy.  © Max-Planck-Institut für biophysikalische Chemie
Beiersdorf cooperation partner Dr. Stefan Hell, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen together with Eric Betzig and William Moerner from the U.S. has been awarded with the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his groundbreaking invention of STED Microscopy. © Max-Planck-Institut für biophysikalische Chemie

This year’s announcement of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry was especially interesting for Beiersdorf Research & Development because the highest prize in science honored a cooperation partner of Beiersdorf. Dr. Stefan Hell, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, together with Eric Betzig and William Moerner from the U.S., was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his groundbreaking invention of STED Microscopy. With the so-called GSDIM Technology, Dr. Frank Fischer, Head of the Beiersdorf Research Microscopy Lab, uses an advancement of the method of the German Nobel Prize winner. GSDIM stands for “Ground State Depletion Individual Molecule Return Microscopy.” The GSDIM technology is supported by the Federal Ministry for Education as part of the joint research project “GSDIM Widefield Nanoscopy.”

The Award-Winning Technology

Dr. Stefan Hell succeeded in cracking the basic resolution limit of optical microscopes. Until now it wasn’t possible to distinguish two objects if the distance between them was smaller than 200 nanometers. This is due to the diffraction of light, which causes both objects to become blurred in the eye of the observer. Stefan Hell and the American researchers Eric Betzig and William Moerner found ways to get around this limit and have now received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for the development of super resolution fluorescence microscopy and the corresponding fluorescence dyes.

With the Microscopy Lab the researcher Sonja Pagel-Wolff (left), the PhD student Meike Halm (2nd from left) and the head of their lab, Dr. Frank Fischer (right) joined the GSDIM Max Planck Institute joint project in 2011. They are actively supported by researcher Martin Sattler (middle) and PhD student Daniel Mellem (second from right).
With the Microscopy Lab the researcher Sonja Pagel-Wolff (left), the PhD student Meike Halm (2nd from left) and the head of their lab, Dr. Frank Fischer (right) joined the GSDIM Max Planck Institute joint project in 2011. They are actively supported by researcher Martin Sattler (middle) and PhD student Daniel Mellem (second from right).

Observing Living Skin Cells with Great Precision and Excellent Partners

“Dr. Hell is one of the world’s leading microscopy experts. He is ambitious, full of humor and has wide-ranging interests. He’s really easy to work with,” says Frank Fischer. Also participating in the joint project GSDIM Widefield Nanoscopy are the microscope manufacturer, Leica Microsystems GmbH from Mannheim and the producer of fast scientific cameras, PCO from Kelheim.

The GSDIM method has the advantage that the type of laser light used allows for a more careful imaging of cells. “This allows very sharp imaging of living skin cells for a long time,” says Dr. Fischer. “The joint project came about as part of the funding initiative ‘Optical Technologies in the Life Sciences – Fundament Cellular Functions’ of the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF).” Beiersdorf hopes to gain new insight into the complex processes of skin aging and to research how cellular structures change through aging. The goal is to stop structural changes or even reverse them with cosmetic treatment.

In the GSDIM joint project Beiersdorf researcher Sonja Pagel-Wolff and Dr. Frank Fischer, Head of the Microscopy Lab, together with PhD student Meike Halm and Bachelor student Robin Sieg are investigating the smallest age-related structural changes within living skin cells and how these structures change when active ingredients are introduced into living cells. 

Promising Initial Findings

“So far we have been able to specifically mark structures of the cellular support frame and the substructure of connective tissue as well as the power plants of the cells, the mitochondria and to image them on living cells,” says Dr. Fischer. The structural changes that accompany aging can now be better observed and the structural improvements from anti-aging active ingredients can be better discovered and understood.

Tubulin fibers in a skin cell in a good light microscope (left) and in a GSD microscope (right).
Tubulin fibers in a skin cell in a good light microscope (left) and in a GSD microscope (right).

About GSDIM

The joint project GSDIM is part of the funding initiative “Optical Technology in the Life Sciences – Fundamental Cellular Functions” of the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF). The goal of these initiatives of the BMBF is to support German companies and research institutes by making innovative optical technologies available for the life sciences. So far, BMBF activities have led to the German industry and research environment being the leader in this field. The funding initiative is intended to help companies to further take advantage of the enormous market potential and to maintain a top position in worldwide competition in order to generate innovation and growth in Germany. The important criteria for funding are scientific and technical excellence, an implementation strategy as well as the importance of the contribution to solving current socially relevant problems with high-tech strategy, such as aging. For Beiersdorf skin aging is of special interest here. The participants in the joint project are aware of the necessity of bringing together diverse scientific disciplines. Physical principles, high-tech microscopy and profound chemistry expertise for the production of appropriate markers help us understand biological systems and structures and thereby to understand skin aging.

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