The new SEISMIC facility could improve our understanding of infectious diseases, aging, and cancers


A new national research facility could dramatically improve our understanding of infectious diseases, aging, and cancers, leading to new treatments and vaccines.

The University of Surrey’s SEISMIC facility will provide scientists with access to technology that enables them to capture single cells or even cell fragments and measure the spatial location of biomarkers such as proteins, metabolites and lipids.

Funded by £2.8m from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and industry, SEISMIC uses an advanced type of microscope made by Yokogawa Corporation.

Thanks to SEISMIC, we have achieved a breakthrough in measuring lipids in individual mammalian cells. This new technology is a game-changer because it allows scientists to measure important biomarkers while tracking where they are in the cell. This is important for understanding how healthy cells function and how infection or cancer can affect them.

We’re really excited about this because it will help us better understand how cells communicate with each other, and this knowledge may lead to new ways to fight disease. “

Professor Melanie Bailey, Director of the SEISMIC Facility, University of Surrey

SEISMIC enables single-cell and sub-cellular analysis, which will help scientists understand what happens under specific conditions and how cells send signals to each other.

Dr Danny Best, Senior Lecturer in Microbial Metabolism at the University of Surrey, said:

“The new facility is free to academics working in BBSRC-funded areas and is also available to scientists in industry. We are confident that SEISMIC will enhance scientific training in single-cell work and overcome some of the challenges in the field.”

SEISMIC is the University of Surrey’s third national research facility with the Ion Beam Center and Environmental Flow Laboratory.

Professor Bailey said:

“The combination of SEISMIC, the Proton Beam Facility and the Ion Beam Center is a boon to the Surrey scientific and commercial communities and could allow us to understand the interaction between cancer cells and radiation in more detail. This has huge potential and we are so excited to welcome researchers to use our new facility.”


Journal reference:

Davison, C. et al. (2023) Expanding the limits of atomic spectroscopy at the single-cell level: a critical review of the developments of SP-ICP-MS, LIBS, and LA-ICP-MS for elemental analysis of tissues and single cells. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry.


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