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Ernst Stelzer will receive Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Microscopical Society

November 2013. The british Royal Microscopical Society (RMS) is to award Ernst Stelzer the Honorary Fellowship of the Society for his contribution to the development of confocal microscopy. Ernst Stelzer will receive his honorary fellowship at the Microscience Microscopy Congress in July 2014 where he will also be giving the plenary talk.

The RMS will be celebrating its 175th Anniversary in 2014. Honorary Fellowships are bestowed to a limited number of scientists by the RMS for eminence in microscopy or related branches of science or for exceptional service to science. Further information on the RMS ...

Ernst Stelzer studied Physics in Frankfurt and gained his PhD in 1987 from the University of Heidelberg. He worked at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg from 1987–2011 before returning to Frankfurt as Professor in Advanced Light Microscopy at the Goethe University.

Although many modern microscopy technologies could operate in three dimensions, they are still mainly applied in a cellular context that is defined by hard and flat surfaces. To obtain the relevant physiological information requires, however, the geometry, mechanical properties, media flux and biochemistry of a cell’s context as present in living tissues. Single cells on cover slips are therefore rather unsatisfactory and three-dimensional multiple cell structures are required.

The observation and the optical manipulation of thick and optically dense biological specimens is hampered by two severe problems which the Stelzer group is adressing: Firstly, biological specimens tend to scatter and absorb light, so the delivery of the probing light and the collection of the signal light both become inefficient. Secondly, many biochemical compounds (most of them non-fluorescent) absorb light, suffer degradation of some sort and induce malfunction or even cell death.

Ernst Stelzer and his research group apply and develop technologies to overcome these problems and allow the observation of relatively large and complex three-dimensional biological specimens as a function of time. The technology of choice is light sheet-based fluorescence microscopy (LSFM), which illuminates a specimen from the side and observes it at an angle of 90°. The focal volumes of the detection system and of the light sheet overlap. True optical sectioning dramatically reduces photo damage outside the common focal plane.

The figure shows lateral root growth out of a primary root. Overall the plant was 120 hours in the microscope chamber. Three-dimensional reconstruction (Arivis software) of three of in total 350 time points. The seedling expresses a nucleus marker in red (H2B–RFP) and a membrane marker in green (LTi6–GFP). Images were collected with a Carl Zeiss C-Apochromat 20x/0.5 W objective lens for the detection. A Carl Zeiss EC Plan-Neofluar 5x/0.16 was used in the illumination path (data and artwort by Daniel von Wangenheim).









The group uses a range of different species of organism, including insects and plants. A major effort is placed on the investigation of multi-cell structures such as spheroids and cysts.

The Stelzer group's implementations of LSFM are the single plane illumination microscope (SPIM) and its more refined version (DSLM). LSFM takes advantage of modern camera technology and are combinable with essentially every contrast and specimen manipulation tool found in modern light microscopes.

Ernst Stelzer's patents have been used by the company Firma Carl Zeiss for their successful LSM microscope series. He has also contributed to the development of systems with multiple lenses, which particularly advanced progress in the study of biological samples.

Introduction by Ernst Stelzer on youtube

Further information about Ernst Stelzer's research ...


Ernst H. K. Stelzer
Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Sciences
Goethe University Frankfurt
Max von Laue Str. 15
60438 Frankfurt/Main
e-mail: ernst.stelzer@physikalischebiologie.de
Tel.: +49 (69) 798 42547