Robert Eric Betzig

Eric Betzig

Title
Professor
Department
Dept of Molecular & Cell Biology
Dept of Physics
Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute
Phone
(510) 664-9818
Research Expertise and Interest
imaging microscopy, biophysics
Research Description

Eric Betzig is a Professor of Molecular and Cell biology, the Eugene D. Commins Presidential Chair in Experimental Physics, a Senior Fellow at the Janelia Research Campus, and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of California, Berkeley.  His Ph.D. thesis at Cornell University and subsequent work at AT&T Bell Labs involved the development of near-field optics – an early form of super-resolution microscopy.  He left academia in 1995 to work in the machine tool industry, but returned ten years later when he and friend, Harald Hess, built the first super-resolution single molecule localization microscope in Harald’s living room.  For this work, he is a co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.  Today, he continues to develop new imaging tools to aid in biological discovery, including correlative super-resolution fluorescence and electron microscopy, 4D dynamic imaging of living systems with non-diffracting light sheets, and adaptive optical microscopy to recover optimal imaging performance deep within aberrating multicellular specimens. 

Research Interests: From the 17th through the mid-20th century, beautifully artistic micrographs of living specimens were inextricably linked to biological discovery.  However, in the latter half of the 20th century, microscopy took a back seat to the powerful new fields of genetics and biochemistry.  Starting in the 1990s, the tables began to turn again, thanks to the widespread availability of computers, lasers, sensitive detectors, and fluorescence labeling techniques.  The result has been a Cambrian explosion of new microscope technologies with the ability to understand the findings of genetics and biochemistry in the context of spatially complex and dynamic living systems.  Eric Betzig's lab has been at the forefront of this revolution, which now demands a corresponding revolution in our ability to quantify and distill new biological insights from the rich, petabyte-scale data at high spatiotemporal resolution that we can now generate. 

 

In the News

January 17, 2019

Thanks to rapid, 3D imaging, anyone can tour the fly brain

A new fly-through of the fly brain allows anyone to whizz past neurons and visit any of the 40 million synapses where neurons touch neuron. It’s a super-resolution view of the complex network connections in the insect’s brain that underlie behaviors ranging from feeding to mating.

Featured in the Media

Please note: The views and opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect the official policies or positions of the campus.
January 22, 2019
Carolyn Wilke
A color-coded and fully searchable map of a fruit fly brain has been created by a team of neuroscientists including molecular and cell biology professor and Nobel Laureate Eric Betzig. The innovative and speedy technique the researchers used to take the super-resolution images of 40 million synapses in an object about the size of a poppy seed promises landmark breakthroughs in neuroscience. The strategy included a technique Professor Betzig had previously developed, called "lattice light sheet microscopy," in which tissues are 3D-scanned using only light and microscopes. Link to video. For more on this, see our press release at Berkeley News. Stories on this topic have appeared in dozens of sources around the world, including IFL Science.
January 18, 2019
Rafi Letzter
A color-coded and fully searchable map of a fruit fly brain has been created by a team of neuroscientists including molecular and cell biology professor and Nobel Laureate Eric Betzig. To take the super-resolution images of an object about the size of a poppy seed, the researchers used a technique Professor Betzig had previously developed, called "lattice light sheet microscopy." This involves 3D-scanning tissues using only light and microscopes. By providing a new way of quickly mapping the brain in profound detail, the work promises landmark breakthroughs in neuroscience. Link to video. For more on this, see our press release at Berkeley News. Stories on this topic have appeared in dozens of sources around the world, including Electro Optics, Medicine News Line, and Science News.