Houston calling – Texas secondment for Swansea NanoHealth scholar

Dr Lewis Francis, a Senior Lecturer in NanoBiology, Reproductive Biology and Gynaecological Oncology at Swansea University’s Centre for NanoHealth, College of Medicine, has just returned to Wales after completing a four-month secondment in Houston, Texas, USA.

Dr Lewis FrancisDr Francis is the first academic from Swansea to undertake a secondment as part of the Swansea University-The Methodist Hospital Research Institute (TMHRI) collaborative, through which scientists from the two institutions have entered into a formal partnership to initiate research projects based on common scientific interests, and co-mentor graduate students for degrees in the areas of Medical Sciences and Engineering.

During his four month stay, Dr Francis, who is from Nelson, near Caerphilly, had a visiting scholar position in The Methodist Hospital Research Institute (TMHRI) and an adjunct professor position in the Natural Sciences Department at RICE University. 

He is a leading expert in biological Atomic force microscopy (AFM), and he is heading up University collab‌orations with major academic centres in the UK, Texas, and with the industry’s  leading manufacturer of scientific instruments for molecular and materials research Bruker, based in California.

Dr Francis was invited to TMHRI to participate in collaborative research with investigators in the department of Nanomedicine. He is developing analysis tools to help understand the function of important proteins in dictating the functional environment that drives cell-cell and cell-particle interaction.

He said: “My primary area of research is in the integrated application of molecular, cell and nano-biology, to answer important clinical and basic biological questions in the areas of gynaecology, regenerative medicine and stem cell biology.

“My secondment involved reaching out to scientists within The Texas Medical Centre, the largest medical centre in the world, to increase awareness of the vast potential that Atomic force microscopy (AFM) has regarding the acquisition of biological, mechanical and electrical information on material and biological samples. 

“My longer term research aim is exploring avenues for translational use of cell and molecular nano-mechanical research, to understand and quantify cell and tissue differentiation mechanisms.”