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Introduction

This laboratory, the Key Laboratory of Analytical Chemistry for Living Biosytems (ACL), was approval of establishment on December 29, 2009, by Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) but can trace its history back to the Laboratory of Analytical Chemistry in Life Science founded in the late 1980s when it was starting to study the learning and training-based memory. The laboratory has since 2002 turned its study to a new field, the living-body-oriented analytical chemistry and/or live analytical chemistry (LAC).

Although the foresighted development of analytical chemistry has provided advanced methodologies, powerful technologies and tools for biological researches, they are hardly applicable to the study of the phenomena that exist only in a living form or in a whole live body but not in dead and sliced samples. To conquer the challenges, the laboratory has since tried to work out new analytical strategies aiming at the inspection of the mysterious life information. At present, it is striving to explore new or innovated methodologies and technologies to enable the study of biological functions of active molecules in various living forms like cells (especially cancer cells), bacteria, model animals (e.g. insects, fish and experimental rats) and even plants.

The researches have been planned to progress along three basic phases. The first phase is the beginning of the research, aiming at founding the fundamental basis of LAC, which includes the exploration of new concepts and principles to build up novel methods or to make the existed methods applicable to the analysis of intact biological samples; The second phase aims at the formation of online, in situ and favorably in vivo or real-time analytical methodologies and technologies by connecting the newly developed methods to living forms through presently available or newly invented interfacing means. And the third or the last phase is actually the application of the new LAC methodology to the inspections of various interesting and significant molecular events happening in a living body.

Along the three phases, four parallel research routes have been set up and are being conducted in this laboratory: The first route has been opened up to develop approaches for insight into the molecular interaction and recognition reactions, and both of molecular and instrumental investigation platforms are concerned; The second route has been established to explore separation-based approaches, where the most focused techniques are capillary- and chip-based fast and high performance methods, including their online coupling techniques towards the living bodies; The third route has been opened up to explore optical probe-based or selective electrode-based online and in vivo probing or sensing methods; And the fourth route having been executed is to develop molecular imaging techniques, and optical imaging (OptI) and mass spectrometric imaging (MSI) are presently studied.

The novel LAC methods have enabled the researches of some molecular events in a living body and their correlation(s) to some significant and interesting life phenomena such as memory and diseases (e.g. cancers). Specially, some molecular mechanisms in ischemia have been studying by tempo-spatial resolution methods newly developed in the laboratory and some major diseases such as tinnitus are focused. This study may also concerned in organ transplantation and brain damage and curing. Recently, the chemical language of insects has also been touched. The insect chemical language will disappear once they die so that it has to be investigated while they are alive. Another interesting project being under study is the determination of trace phytohormones in a growing plant. These studies have led to some new discovery on the molecular events which are hardly inspected using the common analytical strategy and methodology. Some of the significant results obtained during recent five years have been published in more than 260 papers in the internationally reputed academic journals, such as Acc. Chem. Res., J. Am. Chem. Soc., Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., Adv. Mater. and Anal. Chem., and more than 65 innovations have also been patented. Two pieces of advance works have been awarded the first and second graded prizes of Science and Technology Award from Beijing municipal government, respectively; and three pieces of works awarded the first graded prize of Science and Technology from the China association of Instrumental Analysis.

In order to efficiently push forward the study, a young active research team has been organized including 10 professors, 14 associate professors, 6 research assistants and engineers, and one secretary as well. Among the professors, three were awarded the “Distinguished Young Scholars” from the National Natural Scientific Foundation of China (NSFC), one awarded the “One Thousand Youth Talents” from the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST); three were ranked in “One Hundred Talents” and “One Hundred Talents of Technology” from CAS, and three were gained the “Oversea Outstanding Young Scholars Project” from the Institute of Chemistry, CAS. The team also consists of variable postgraduate students and postdoctoral fellows and visiting scholars. They are devoting their full efforts to making breakthrough in this new LAC field.

Besides the team, various experimental equipment and platforms have been equipped via purchase and laboratory-fabrications. They can be classified into three categories: the first one concerns with the animal training and sampling such microdialytic systems, model animal training platforms, and so forth; The second includes mainly the large and advanced separation and identification instruments, such as various mass spectrometers, high performance LC/GC-MS, capillary and chip electrophoresis systems, ultrasensitive laser-induced fluorescence detection instrument, visible light/fluorescence microscopy systems, laboratory-built surface plasma resonance sensing (SPRi), quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) and addressable microdottng system. The third is mainly the biological research equipment, e.g., flow cytometers, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) instruments, various cell culture systems, ultra-high-speed centrifugal machines and various microscopies. These platforms and equipment support not only the scientific research but also the training of students.

The present financial situation of this laboratory is excellent. The researches have been financed, during recent five years, for ¥ 60,000,000 from MOST, NSFC, CAS and industrial enterprises. Several big projects are under conducting, for example, the MOST’s Key Basic Research Project (973 Program) and National High-tech R&D Program (863Program), and NSFC’s National Key Technology R&D Program, Major Projects, Major International Cooperation Program and Instrumentation Development Program. In order to push forward the development of LAC in China, the laboratory has established a fund for training and collaborating. Scientists can apply for the funding to be trained and educated or to conduct a cooperative research project(s) in the laboratory.

 
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