Our lab is the Optogenetic Protein Engineering Node of the Canadian Neurophotonics Platform. We work together with a Canada-wide team of researchers to develop and test novel neurophotonics tools and technologies.  

We use protein engineering to invent new tools for imaging dynamic biochemical events in live cells and tissues. We distribute these tools to cell biologists and neuroscientists who apply them to address questions ranging from fundamental mechanisms in cell biology, to the underlying causes of mental illness, to the development of novel therapeutics.


The molecules that make our work possible are colourful naturally occurring fluorescent proteins from jellyfish, coral, and other marine organisms. Starting from the gene for a fluorescent protein, we use the techniques of molecular biology, protein engineering, and artificial molecular evolution to create useful research tools. Since these tools are protein based, the instructions to make them can be easily introduced into cells, tissues, or even transgenic model organisms, in the form of DNA.

Nature Methods profile of Dr. Campbell

The Author File: Robert E. Campbell : Nature Methods : Nature Publishing Group.

From the article:

“Campbell’s love of invention-oriented science has guided his career. “However, as I approach my midcareer stage, I’m also finding that focusing on invention alone can be kind of scary,” he says. Hypothesis-driven research will always lead to an answer, even if it is not the right answer. “In contrast, invention-driven research is often binary,” he says. “It either works or it doesn’t work, and the failures are rarely publishable.”

Campbell says his graduate students offer a steady flow of creativity and imagination and help him sustain this invention-focused model to keep developing FP-based tools.”

Dr. Campbell featured in Nature Methods Technology Feature

Probes: paths to photostability : Nature Methods : Nature Publishing Group.

From the article:

“The elegance and convenience of having a cell make its own fluorophore outweighs all other considerations for all but a very small number of potential applications, says Campbell. “If I wanted to perform long-term tracking of a cell surface receptor, I would use a quantum dot,” he says. “Other than that, FPs all the way!””

Robert E. Campbell, Ph.D. 
Department of Chemistry, 
11227 Saskatchewan Drive, 
University of Alberta, 
Edmonton, Alberta 
T6G 2G2 Canada

Email: rc4@ualberta.ca
Phone: (780) 492-1849
Fax: (780) 492-8231
Office: CCIS 4-083
Lab: CCIS 4-140