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Our work at the Rosalind Franklin Institute is driven by a clear aim of making transformative leaps forward in life science.

We achieve unique insights by developing new instruments, creating new ways of working and integrating previously disparate approaches.

Utilising our new tools, we will image, interpret and intervene in biological systems. These insights will speed up the discovery of new medicines, help find new diagnostics, push forward microbial and plant science and contribute to a deeper understanding of human health and disease.

In our next five years we will apply and combine our novel technologies in adventurous ways to push atomic resolution, mechanistic understanding and control into cells, tissues, organs and organisms.

Our core technologies

The Franklin has selected a unique suite of techniques where we can push developments that are synergistic and impactful. We work with interdisciplinary research teams, developers, engineers and manufacturers to create novel technologies both in-house and collaboratively with partners.

Find out more about our core technologies here.

Exemplar applications

These carefully selected areas demonstrate the utility of our technologies. These areas are all of strategic importance to the UK economy and international health, and are all open to transformative insight through our image, interpret, intervene model.

Find out more about our exemplar applications here.

We work as an integrated team but we can describe ourselves as five overlapping scientific themes.

Scientific themes


Artificial Intelligence and Informatics

Data is critical to the research carried out at the Franklin, where the latest tools and technologies are capable of producing enormous quantities of complex information even in single experiments. Artificial Intelligence and Informatics plays a key role in augmenting the Franklin’s other scientific themes by applying the latest methods in AI and machine learning to enhance performance in areas such as data processing and analysis – ‘automating the mundane to highlight the extraordinary’.

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Biological Mass Spectrometry

The Biological Mass Spectrometry theme aims to seed a functional proteomics revolution by bringing together the UK’s world-leading technology companies and academic expertise. A key objective is to construct a unique multimodal-imaging mass spectrometer instrument, which will allow the molecular mapping of biological tissues at unprecedented sensitivity, chemical depth and spatial resolution. The instrument is envisioned not only to detect the building blocks of tissues, but also to provide proper structural characterisation of all detected molecular species and supramolecular complexes.

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Correlated Imaging

Correlated Imaging addresses the primary challenges in amalgamating data from a multiple established and newly developed imaging techniques to enable researchers to build a clearer picture of their target – from centimetre-scale tumours to picometre-scale atoms. Central to this vision will be the development of new imaging modes not available in conventional cryo-EM instruments, which will significantly boost available resolution and allow the recording of images at a million frames per second at close to atomic resolution – a step-change in performance. This capability will reveal previously hidden rapid dynamic events in structural biology, including how proteins change under the influence of different drug actions, or how membranes fold and unfold in different biological systems.

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Next Generation Chemistry

By applying the techniques of organic chemistry to the exploration of living systems, scientists can generate fresh insights into complex biology. The aim, ultimately, is to develop methods of reprogramming the functional information found inside biological molecules like proteins. Drug and vaccine development is a natural direction for much of this work, alongside the therapeutic use of protein editing itself through the enhancement of ‘deficient’ proteins or the introduction of synthetic biologics into the body.

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Structural Biology

Structural biology, through its ability to bring molecules to life in 3D, has led to breakthroughs including new treatments for influenza and HIV. An important bottleneck remains, in the production and delivery of biological samples. An aim of this theme is to increase, by an order of magnitude, the number of specimens that can be prepared for analysis by revolutionising the process in partnership with medicine, academia and industry. At the same time, we want to image molecules in the cell, electron tomography. We are leading a national effort to make electron tomography of cells routine. The deeper knowledge and new technology developed at the Franklin will bring will transform the search for new medicines.

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Collaborate with us

We want to partner with many different types of organisation and use our technologies to help answer research problems across life science, to enable this we have various routes by which you can collaborate with us.

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Rosalind Franklin Institute