Biodynamic Optical Imaging Center (BIOPIC) is an interdisciplinary research center established by Peking University in 2010. The aim of the center is to develop and apply the most advanced bioimaging and sequencing techniques to address fundamental and compelling biological and medical problems at the molecular and cellular levels. Equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, BIOPIC will focus on the following five areas of technical development:

(1) Single molecule observation and manipulation: from in vitro to in vivo
(2) High-throughput sequencing
(3) Super-resolution cellular imaging
(4) Microfluidic control and analysis of single cells
(5) Label-free biomedical imaging

BIOPIC will take advantage of these technologies to conduct fundamental research in biochemistry, biophysics, molecular biology and cell biology, with the hope of providing an understanding of stem cells, cancers, and infectious and metabolic diseases. BIOPIC wishes to make an impact on life sciences through international collaborations that apply cutting edge technologies to biomedical research with a multidisciplinary approach.

Single Molecule Observation and Manipulation

During the past decade, rapid developments in single molecule techniques have allowed scientists to monitor and manipulate the position, orientation and distribution of individual molecules, as well as their dynamical processes, particularly chemical reactions, with nanometer spatial precision and millisecond time resolution. These developments have facilitated the advancement of many fields of biological research, and scientists can now observe and manipulate the behaviors of single biomolecules not only in vitro but also in live cells, gaining molecular level understanding of life processes. BIOPIC aims at further developments and applications of single molecule techniques in order to study the dynamic processes of biological systems, including non-equilibrium dynamics of biomolecules as well as biochemical reactions in live cells, particularly, gene expression and regulation. New insights derived from these studies will advance our understanding of fundamental questions in biology and medicine.

High-throughput DNA sequencing has revolutionized biological and medical research, offering unprecedented opportunities to systematically dissect functional elements in genome sequences and gene regulation networks. BIOPIC will apply state-of-the-art high-throughput techniques to carry out functional genomics analysis of stem cells, human embryonic development and human diseases, especially cancers and infectious diseases. BIOPIC is capitalizing on new sequencing techniques, with a focus on the single cell genomics, transciptomics and epigenomics analysis. These developments will greatly facilitate advances in biological research, medical diagnosis, and personal medicine.

High Throughput Sequencing

Super-Resolution Cellular Imaging

Limited by light diffraction, conventional optical microscopy can only achieve spatial resolution of a few hundred nanometers. Recently, a few emerging super-resolution techniques have broken this barrier and achieved spatial resolution as high as 10 nm, and thus opened a broad range of applications in life sciences. BIOPIC uses these techniques to probe static structures, such as three-dimensional structures of nuclei; as well as dynamic processes in the living cell. The study will lead to unprecedented visualization and deeper understanding of various life processes.

Cells are the basic functional unit of life. Traditional studies of cell biology, which are based on the average results of a large number of cells, mask widespread cellular heterogeneity and therefore offer limited information. Microfluidics is a technology that manipulates liquid with the volume of nanoliter or less. Microfluidic devices suitably match a cell’s dimension and hence provide a powerful tool to deliver and manipulate single cells under controlled microenvironments. At BIOPIC, we interface microfluidic technologies with high-throughput studies of real-time microscopy, as well as single-cell genomics and digital transciptomics.

Microfluidic Control and Analysis of Single Cells

Label-Free Biomedical Imaging

Label-free imaging technology has become an important goal for microscopy. It generates contrast through a molecule’s intrinsic properties, avoiding the disadvantages of fluorescent labels. BIOPIC is developing stimulated Raman scattering (SRS) microscopy for real-time and non-invasive biological imaging, with high specificity, high sensitivity and high spatial resolution. This technique is superior in observing the spatial distributions and real-time dynamics of many molecules, such as lipids, proteins, DNA, RNA, water, metabolites and small drug molecules, in live cells as well as in live animal and human tissues. SRS microscopy provides a unique tool for fundamental research in life sciences and medical diagnostics.