Professor Axelrod’s specialty is developing novel optical microscopy techniques to study the motion and organization of biological molecules and cellular organelles near biological surfaces. Many biological aspects are done in collaboration with research groups at the University of Michigan Medical School.
One major project, in collaboration with the group of Dr. Ron Holz in the Department of Pharmacology, examines the mechanisms of stimulated secretion of adrenaline-containing vesicles from chromaffin cells as studied mainly by time lapse polarized total internal reflection (TIR) fluorescence quantitative imaging and analysis. The novel optical techniques allow us to study: (a) how vesicles that are secreted differ in their motions from vesicles that are not secreted; (b) how the cell membrane changes its local shape before, during, and after a secretion event; and (c) what are the physical properties (such as viscosity) inside a secretory vesicle.
Other projects include studying the optical properties of a single fluorescent molecule at a surface and the detection of single molecules through a microscope.
Professor Axelrod is a Fellow of the Biophysical Society and a recipient of the Biophysical Society’s 2010 Gregorio Weber Award for fluorescence theory and applications.