TCRN Travel story | Alex Macmillan, PhD - 2017 R2 Professional Development Grant

14 March 2018

The 23rd Picoquant Single Molecule and Super-Resolution Microscopy in the Life Sciences Workshop

Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your research? 

Upon completion of my PhD in 2010, I worked for a brief period in industry working for a company that manufactured fluorescence lifetime systems. Following this I took a position within the Biomedical Imaging Facility, Mark Wainwright Analytical Centre, a core multi user environment where I have supported, advised, and collaborated with researchers to utilise best practice in fluorescence microscopy techniques in order to maximise scientific output and achieve high quality outcomes in biomedical research including cancer research.

Could you tell us about the conference you went to and why you chose to attend this conference/workshop?

The 23rd Picoquant Single Molecule and Super-Resolution Microscopy in the Life Sciences Workshop aimed to provide an interdisciplinary platform for the exchange of experience and information as well as sharing recent findings in the field of ultra-sensitive optical detection down to the single molecule level and beyond the classical diffraction limit. I choose to attend this workshop because there are limited opportunities to get hands on experience using new methods and techniques. 

What would be the most important outcomes of the conference for you?

Attendance at this workshop gave me the opportunity to develop new skills and gain experience with cutting edge technology which will be brought to UNSW within the next 6 months. Having gained experience with the new methodology I will disseminate this information and knowledge to members of the TCRN. Furthermore, attendance at the conference gave me the opportunity to develop new collaborations with international experts, which enhances the capability of the network

Could you tell us about your presentation at the conference

My presentation at the workshop described the application fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) and for monitoring drug delivery by nanoparticle. FLIM has provided a means to directly monitor and demonstrate time-release of the anti-cancer drug Doxorubicin (DOX) from polymeric and iron nanoparticles. Importantly, it allows us to distinguish between the free and conjugated doxorubicin distributions within live cells.

Were there any new knowledge or strategies from the conference you found interesting and possibly an interest of other TCRN members?

 My attendance at this workshop allowed me to get hands on experience with the rapid FLIM system which is due for installation within the Biomedical Imaging Facility, UNSW, and which was funded by Cancer Institute New South Wales. Furthermore, it allowed me to learn the advanced analysis techniques required in order to support this technology. Through learning these techniques at the workshop, I will support TCRN members accessing the microscope and the wider cancer research community 

Could you tell us about your membership with the TCRN?  

I have been a member of the TCRN for over 1 year. I work closely with other members of the TCRN to support the application of advanced microscopy techniques to cancer research. 

You received funding to attend the conference – could you tell us about the difficulties of obtaining funding for these sorts of activities and how the TCRN fills a need? 

Currently there are not a lot of travel grant opportunities. The TCRN conference and professional development funding provides the opportunity for awardees to attend conferences which they have otherwise been unable to attend. The attendance at conferences/workshops is a very important part of scientific development and a platform for skill development.  It also provides unique networking opportunities.