National Cryo-Electron Microscopy Facility

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The mission of the National Cryo-Electron Microscopy Facility at NCI is to provide cancer researchers access to the latest cryo-EM technology for high resolution imaging. The National Cryo-EM is a user facility under the umbrella of the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research.

Need for Cryo-EM

Over the last several years, the field of cryo-EM has undergone a revolution. Where once structural analysis by cryo-EM meant blob-like maps that were fit with data from other structural biology modalities, such as X-ray crystallography or nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, now the data generated by cryo-EM can be of high enough resolution to directly generate atomic models for proteins and other biological macromolecules.

This revolution has been driven by several factors, including changes in the technology of microscopes and cameras, as well as new computational techniques for analyzing single particle cryo-EM data. Access to the latest microscope and detector technologies, which can be prohibitively expensive for many institutions, is critical for acquiring the best quality data and generating the highest resolution structures by this method. NCI has created the National Cryo-EM Facility to meet the needs of cancer researchers who are engaged in structural biology cryo-EM research and do not have adequate access to these instruments at their own institutions.


The National Cryo-EM Facility is expected to open with one Titan Krios microscope, and additional microscopes will be added in the future as needed. To meet the diverse imaging needs of the cryo-EM community, this microscope will be fitted with both a Falcon II direct detector and K2 Summit direct detector at the end of a Gatan imaging filter. Specialists in cryo-EM data collection and microscope operation will be available to assist users with data collection.


Installation of the Titan Krios microscope is currently underway, and is projected to be completed during the summer of 2016.

We expect that the resource will be available for use by the extramural community around Fall 2016. Updates on installation progress will be posted on this site.


The aim of this facility is to provide rapid access to scientists who can show that they have quality specimens ready to image at high resolution. The Titan Krios microscope is currently located at NCI’s Advanced Technology Center in Gaithersburg, MD.  As the microscope installation nears completion, additional details about eligibility and how to sign up for time to use the microscope will be made available.


Dr. Sriram Subramaniam will serve as director of the National Cryo-EM Facility to enable the initial instrument installation and launch of the facility. A committee of members of the cryo-EM and structural biology communities will advise the NCI on the operation of the facility.

  • Posted: March 22, 2016