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Biophysical Sciences Institute

Technologies and Methodologies

The development of technologies, methodologies and their applications in biology is a dynamic area of research in the BSI.  For more information about any of the individual technologies and methodologies and how they are being applied within the BSI please follow these links:


Biomembrane models and cells at an interface between two aqueous phases, each phase mimicking either extra or intra cellular fluids, are studied for characterising the interactions of molecules with bilayer lipid membranes (BLMs) and for assembling 'soft' implantable sensing materials.


Electrochemical sensors, both disposable and on-line, are developed and characterised for application in 'harsh' samples such as plasma, whole blood and brackish media.


Supported by both the BHF and EPSRC, a high resolution SPIM (Single Plain Illumination Microscopy) is being developed to record high-resolution 3D images of a beating heart within zebra fish. 


Advanced protein characterisation, protein folding and post-translational modification largely supported by BBSRC.


This work aims to provide a key bioimage informatics technology for significant deepening and broadening of our knowledge and understanding of biological systems, which will open novel avenues for life sciences and beyond.


Neurostimulation

Transcranial neurostimulation (comprising magnetic and electrical stimulation) allows us to reversibly modulate neural activity in the brain. These non-invasive techniques determine the causal involvement of brain regions in behaviour and can also determine the temporal specificity of their participation. Potential exists for the combination of neurostimulation with functional imaging in order to better uncover functional networks involved in behaviour adding value to the merely correlative activations achieved by fMRI collected during behavioural tasks alone.


Functional magnetic resonance imaging

fMRI is a functional neuroimaging procedure using MRI technology to measure brain activity by detecting associated changes in blood flow. fMRI can be used to study brain activation as well as functional and structural brain connectivity. The Durham University Neuroimaging Centre (DUNIC) has the primary role of encouraging and facilitating research using the University's Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) facility. The facility is shared equally between the University and South Tees Hospitals NHS Trust, and is situated at the James Cook University Hospital (JCUH) in Middlesbrough. Please see https://www.dur.ac.uk/psychology/research/neuroimagingcentre/ for more information or contact Dr. Susanne Weis.


Psychophysiological and electrophysiological recording

Psychophysiological recording techniques such as Electrocardiography (the electrical activity of the heart), Impedance Cardiography (mechanical function of the heart), and Galvanic Skin Response (sweating of the palms) provide indices of autonomic nervous system activity which can be used to gauge arousal and emotional reactivity as well as attempts at regulating arousal. Extracellular electrophysiological techniques record neuronal firing rates, and can be used to record ensembles of single neurons in freely behaving rodents. Electroencephalography (EEG), including mobile EEG technology, is used to investigate brain activity during human movement and cognition.


Kinematic measures

Motion capture techniques are utilised for recording the movement of particular body parts or the whole body, for example the measurement of gait or reaching and grasping parameters. Various eye-movement trackers, including head-mounted systems, are available for monitoring how individuals plan and execute eye-movements during cognitive tasks. They can also be used to understand social cognition in typically developing children and individuals with developmental disorders.


Contact Details

Biophysical Sciences Institute
Durham University.
South Road,
Durham,
DH1 3LE
+44 (0) 191 334 2351

email: admin.bsi@durham.ac.uk