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Gustavo B. Menezes’ Mission To Increase Access to Bioimaging Equipment With Labs Around the World

Published in Scanners and Imaging.

Imagine playing chess without knowing all the rules. The analogy, adapted from renowned physicist Richard Feynman’s explanation of attempting to understand natural phenomena, was more or less what biologist Gustavo B. Menezes, of Brazil, experienced before he was exposed to a new world in imaging.

“I remember it just like yesterday,” Menezes says of the moment he was introduced to bioimaging. “It was love at first sight.”

The most routine lab microscopes work well to examine isolated samples of tissue extracted from a living subject. Those were the ones available to Menezes and his colleagues in Brazil at the time.

More advanced microscopes, in contrast, allow researchers to examine biological processes within a living specimen — or, in vivo — in real time and all at once. Whole organs or even an entire living specimen can be imaged while it conducts its normal biological functions, giving researchers the ability to witness interactions at various levels of cell structures.

“[Knowing] how cells connect, how cells kill bacteria, how a molecule travels from one place to another,” Menezes explains of its application, “this has opened huge doors in our knowledge about biology.”

Access to what Menezes called “a whole new world” in biology, however, was limited in Brazil due to the prohibitively high cost of bioimaging microscopes — but he was determined to change that.