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Cell Biophysics Laboratory (CBP)

The Centre for Micro-Photonics has individual research groups each working and collaborating on different aspects of nano- and bio-photonics. The Cell Biophysics Laboratory, led by Associate Professor Andrew Clayton aims to incorporate the use of optical physics to investigate and control the structure and interactions in living cells.

Group Overview:

Group Leader:
Group members:
Visiting Faculty:
  • Adjunct Professor Amit Chattopadhyay
  • Visiting Professor Richard Posner
Research Students:
  • Zubaidah Ningsih
  • Muhammad Khattab
  • Nadine Shagaghi (Department of Chemistry and Biotechnology)
  • Madeline Van Dongen (Department of Chemistry and Biotechnology)
  • Matthew Burton (University of Melbourne)
To provide a world-class research and research-training environment at the interface of biology and physics.
To use light to probe and perturb macromolecular structure and interactions in living cells.

To improve our understanding of diseases such as cancer at the molecular level.

To provide fundamental knowledge that will ultimately improve well-being.
All labs are located at the Swinburne University Hawthorn Campus.

Research Projects and Affiliations:

5D microscopy of cellular function

Five Dimensional microscopy of cellular function in the three spatial, spectral and temporal dimensions aims to provided comprehensive understanding of diseases such as cancer at the molecular level. These additional dimensions can carry information not found in static three dimensional (3D) optical imaging and have been proven to be very usefully tools in understanding cell behavior.

More Information

Cell Surface Receptors

Receptors are membrane proteins that receive information from outside of the cell and transmit this information to the inside of the cell. This information is used by the cell to make decisions such as to divide (grow), move, or die. By means of multi-dimensional fluorescence microscopy, we are examining the molecular rearrangements which accompany the retrieval and relay of information by receptors.

Highlight publication: Kozer et al, Recruitment of the Adaptor Protein Grb2 to EGFR Tetramers. Biochemistry, 2014.

Cancer Bio-photonics

Antibodies and small molecule inhibitors are the two largest classes of targeted drug therapies used in the clinic. In collaboration with Olivia-Newton-John-Cancer-Centre Researchers Prof Andrew Scott and Dr Adam Parslow, we are using sensitive microscopic techniques to understand the mechanism by which these drugs work. This information may help to design improved treatments for cancer.

Highlight publication: Gan et al, Targeting of a conformationally exposed, tumor-specific epitope of EGFR as a strategy for cancer therapy, Cancer Research, 2012.


Particles which are scaled down to 100 nm or less have special optical and physical properties which make them attractive as “magic bullets” against cancer cells. Together with A/Prof James Chon (ONSPA Lab , CMP) we are designing growth-factor-conjugated gold nanoparticles which can both probe and perturb receptors in cancer cells.

Highlight publication: Paviolo, Chon and Clayton, Inhibiting EGFR clustering and cell proliferation with gold nanoparticles, Small, 2015.

Cell Signalling Interferometry

Cells are largely under the control of biochemical networks which involve the interactions of hundreds of biological macromolecules. These sets of interconnections between molecules are often represented as “wiring diagrams” in analogy with electronic circuits. Inspired by electrical engineers, we are attempting to understand the operation of these biochemical circuits by measuring cell behaviour under different temporally-varying cell stimulation conditions.

Highlight publication: Ningsih et al, A Microfluidic Device for Spatiotemporal Delivery of Stimuli to Cells, AIMS Biophysics, 2015.

Mechanism of action of antimicrobial peptides in living cells

Antimicrobial resistance is a looming threat for humanity. Antimicrobial peptides hold promise as alternatives to conventional antibiotics. In collaboration with Profs Bhave and Palombo (Department of Chemistry and Biotechnology), we are investigating the mechanism of action of antimicrobial peptides on a range of different microbes.

Highlight publication: Shagaghi et al, Archetypal tryptophan-rich antimicrobial peptides: properties and applications, World Journal of Microbiology & Biotechnology, 2016.

Optical Tools for Cell Biology

Fluorescence from intrinsic and extrinsic probes provides a wealth of information on structure and dynamics. We are exploiting the many dimensions of fluorescence to design new types of experiments which provide insight into the functioning of biological molecules in condensed phases such as solutions, membranes and in living cells.

Highlight publication: Kozer and Clayton, Analysis of complex anisotropy decays from single-frequency polarized-phasor ellipse plots., Methods and Applications of Fluorescence (invited, special issue) (in press).


Biophysics Symposium:

Biophysics Symposium poster

The CMP Cell Biophysics Laboratory hosts a Biophysics Symposium on Thursday 7th March 2013.

More Information

Group Leader:
Associate Professor
Andrew Clayton

ph: +61 3 9214 5719


Research Projects: