Biology at the nanoscale, one molecule at a time
Advances in optical imaging and molecular manipulation techniques have made it possible to observe individual enzymes and record molecular movies that provide new insight into their dynamics and reaction mechanisms. The integration of such a ‘single-molecule philosophy’ with microfluidic platforms is of critical importance to enable the handling and visualisation of macromolecules at the single-molecule level. We are applying a single-molecule approach to study DNA replication, a process important in all domains of life and critical to the propagation of genetic information from generation to generation. I will present recent results of single-molecule studies of replication and show how that process in bacteria is related to the evolution of ‘superbugs’, bacteria that have become insensitive to antibiotics.
Antoine van Oijen led research groups at Harvard Medical School and Groningen University (the Netherlands) before moving to the University of Wollongong in 2015 as an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow. His research revolves around the development and use of single-molecule biophysical tools to study complex biological systems. At the University of Wollongong, he is spearheading the establishment of Molecular Horizons, an $80M investment in a new molecular life sciences research institute. With Molecular Horizons, Prof van Oijen aims to create a research ecosystem that brings together scientists from biology, chemistry, physics, and medicine to use molecular visualisation approaches as a key driver for medical discovery. By combining cutting-edge molecular visualisation technology with high-performance computational approaches, by establishing multidisciplinary teams of researchers, and by fully integrating the molecular life sciences research into the University’s teaching programs, the institute aims to deliver research and teaching outcomes with a broad impact on our community.