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Prof Frank Vollmer



Telephone: 01392 724771

Extension: (Streatham) 4771

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Professor of BiophysicsMolecular & Quantum Sensors and Systems

Living Systems Institute,

Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of Exeter

Frank Vollmer is a Professor of Biophysics and EPSRC Established Career Fellow at the Living Systems Institute. Prof Vollmer pioneers optical technology to study processes at the nanoscale. He held several appointments at leading US institutions including Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Before moving to the LSI in 2016, he held the position of Research Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light (DE). In 2017 Prof Vollmer was awarded the Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award.

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2017- 2020    Associate Director (International and Development), Living Systems Institute, Exeter

2016-             Professor, University of Exeter, UK

2010-­2016      Associate Professor/Group Leader (W2), Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light, Germany

2011-­2016       Instructor, Brigham & Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School, USA

2013--2016     Privatdozent (Lecturer), Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany

2009-­2010      Scholar-in-Residence, Wyss Institute, Harvard University, Boston, USA

2004-­2009      Fellow, Rowland Institute at Harvard University, Boston, USA


2013                Venia Legendi (Habilitation) in Physics, Friedrich-Alexander University
2004                PhD, Physics & Biology, Rockefeller University
                         New York City, USA
1998                MSc, Biophysical Chemistry, Leibnitz University
                         Hannover, Germany
1995                BSc, Biochemistry, University of Bayreuth

Honors and Awards

2018                EPSRC Established Career Fellow

2017                Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award

2011                R01 Grant Award, National Institutes of Health, NIGMS, USA

2010                Max Planck Research Group Award (MPRG)

2004                Rowland Fellowship, Harvard University (

2000                PhD Fellowship, Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds (


Professional Activities and Work Experience

2011--2017      Associate Editor, Optics Express

2013--2014      Organizer “Micro-cavity Biosensing” Conference in Bad Honnef, Germany

2005--2009      Micro- & Nanofabrication, Center for Nanoscale Systems, Harvard, USA

1992--1993      Medical-Technical Assistant, Katharinen-Hospital Suttgart, Germany


Referee (selected): Science, Nature Photonics, Nature Nanotechnology, Nature Biotechnology, Nature Materials, Physical Review Letters, Optics Letters, Applied Physics Letters, ACS Nano, Biophysical Journal, Lab on a Chip, Optics Express, Humboldt, DFG, ERC, ISERD


Recent Grant Funding

Project Title

Funding source



Role of the PI

Established Career Fellow EPSRC £1.8M 11/2018-11/2023 PI, Fellow

Wolfson Research Merit Award

Royal Society

GBP 125,000





€    572,000 (€ 4M total)



Micro/Nano-Photonics Devices for Biosensing

Max Planck Society, Germany

€ 2,300,000


Single PI, Project Leader

Real-time Detection of Cell Response to Toxins in Microenvironments

National Institutes of Health, NIGMS, USA

$ 1,250,000


PI, Project Leader

Taking Detection to the Limit

WE Heraeus Foundation, Germany

€      39,000


Organizer, 5-day Conference in Bad Honnef, Germany

 Industry Funding, Company Voith, €12,000, 6/2016-3/2017, PI