Romana Schirhagl, a researcher at the University Medical Center Groningen, is hoping to garner public support for a new form of cancer research. Schirhagl wants to introduce miniscule diamonds into living cancer cells. Like spies, these nanodiamonds will be on a mission to reveal the secrets of the cell. Schirhagl applies a unique combination of knowledge and techniques from physics, chemistry and medicine in the research. This could form the basis of new and improved cancer drugs.
The research of Schirhagl and her research group in the department of Biomedical Engineering focuses on the behaviour of free radicals in a cell. These radicals have an important role in the body. They are sometimes extremely useful, as in the immune system, where they help fight bacteria and viruses, but sometimes very harmful, as when they actually harm healthy cells and can cause cancer. As the radicals only exist for a fraction of a second, it is difficult to tell them apart and study them.
Schirhagl wants to apply a new technique that currently is mainly used in fundamental physics but looks extremely promising for biomedical research. The technique is based on very small diamonds that can ‘sense’ the presence of magnetic fields from the radicals. The nanodiamonds are fluorescent and change in luminosity as a response to their environment. This makes it easier to determine which radicals occur when and how they work. This information should make it possible to improve cancer drugs – which themselves sometimes use free radicals – or even develop new ones.
Schirhagl and her team are hoping to use crowdfunding to raise funds for the research. The nanodiamonds themselves are very cheap, but the current research budget will not cover the purchase of special, adapted microscopes. Her initial aim is to raise € 20,000. Those wishing to help can do so on the website
Contact: Bert Wolfkamp, Project Coordinator, Ubbo Emmius Fund, tel.: 050 363 5456, e-mail:
You can find more information about the research and the crowdfunding project at
Contact person for the research: Simon Hemelaar http://www.rug.nl/staff/s.r.hemelaar/
Northern Netherlands Top Dutch Solar Racing team joins forces to prepare for solar race in Morocco.
An international group of over 100 researchers led by Professor Lude Franke of the UMCG has identified hundreds of ‘key genes’. These key genes provide insight into the development of diseases and offer leads for medicine development.
A multidisciplinary team of researchers from 11 different countries are starting a project on speeding up the development of vaccines. Researchers from the University of Groningen (UG) and the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) will study...
The UG website uses functional and anonymous analytics cookies. Please answer the question of whether or not you want to accept other cookies (such as tracking cookies).
If no choice is made, only basic cookies will be stored. More information