Aiming to shed bright light also on Life Science

In less than two years from now, scientists will be able to carry out experiments using the world’s brightest light source and obtain unique information. Thanks to the MAX IV Laboratory in Lund, it will be possible to shed light on previously dark or grey areas of the map of science, not least within the life sciences. New types of experiments, novel findings and results relating to for example growth and treatment of cancers will be possible.

The new synchrotron light source MAX IV has previously been compared to another ingenious and ubiquitous invention; the Swiss army knife. Just like that highly versatile tool, MAX IV is a flexible and adaptable tool that will serve the needs of a broad scientific community.
“Researchers operating in virtually any scientific discipline from physics to archeology – and not least life science, will be able to sharpen their experiments and see things in a brand new light through the brilliant beams generated by the pioneering MAX IV technology”, says Tomas Lundqvist, Life Science Director at MAX IV Laboratory as from January this year.

At the heart of Medicon Valley
MAX IV will be the most brilliant synchrotron light source in the world and will by far exceed the performance of any other third generation synchrotron radiation facilities in its accessible energy range, exploiting the pioneering MAX IV accelerator technology for the development of which machine director Mikael Eriksson won the KTH Grand Prize in 2011.
This technological breakthrough gives the MAX IV Laboratory outstanding possibilities to become an internationally leading facility for the use of synchrotron radiation in virtually all areas of science and technology. And it is available at the heart of the Medicon Valley life science cluster in Lund, just a few hundred meters away from the new European Spallation Source.

A special position
The estimated 30 beamlines that will eventually be in operation at the MAX IV Laboratory will, once the facility is operating at full capacity, facilitate spectroscopy, imaging and microscopy methods with unprecedented spatial and time resolution and simultaneous sensitivity to chemical, electronic, geometric and magnetic structures.
However, each beamline beyond the currently funded 13 will require additional external funding in order to become reality. Two of the flagship beamlines that will be dedicated solely for life science-related research largely lacks funding. They are referred to as MicroMAX and MedMAX. Tomas Lundqvist reveals that currently MedMAX has received some seed funding from Region Skåne, Medicon Village Foundation and Lund University while MicroMAX, the scientifically most highly ranked beamline, lacks funding altogether. Despite this, it is MicroMAX and MedMAX that has the potential to secure a special position for the MAX IV Laboratory within the global life science community.

Further growth
Synchrotrons are already widely used in medical research and early drug discovery on the molecular level. In addition, they are increasingly used to resolve the dynamics of biological systems on a molecular level, an area of research in which MicroMAX could excel.
“MedMAX, on the other hand, with an unprecedented resolution and contrast will open new opportunities for biomedical imaging and complement any of today’s available imaging technologies and analysis”, says Tomas Lundqvist. “Together the two beamlines can provide detailed insight into disease biology; from the atomic to the anatomic level”.
The overall ambition behind creating the MAX IV Laboratory clearly states that it is to become an international and openly accessible facility. The MAX IV facility, together with ESS, will put Sweden and Medicon Valley at the forefront of large research facilities and create more spin-offs with new companies making technology transfer marketable.

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