National Cryo-Electron Microscopy Facility

The mission of the National Cryo-Electron Microscopy Facility (NCEF) at NCI is to provide cancer researchers access to the latest cryo-EM technology for high resolution imaging. The National Cryo-EM is a service 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 that low resolution maps were fit with high-resolution structures derived 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.

Ulrich Baxa of the NCEF is retrieving grid samples for Cryo-EM imaging.

This revolution has been driven by several factors, including advances in microscope and camera technology, as well as improved computational methods 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. The NCI has created the National Cryo-EM Facility to meet the needs of cancer researchers in academic labs who do not have adequate access to these instruments.


The National Cryo-EM Facility currently houses one Titan Krios microscope equipped with a Falcon II direct detector and a K2 Summit direct detector at the end of a Gatan imaging filter.

A phase plate has been installed recently and the facility will be able to provide automated phase plate imaging for single particle and tomography soon. The Falcon II has been upgraded to a Falcon 3EC camera recently and counted imaging on Falcon 3EC will be provided to users soon. Upgrade for the K2 summit camera to a K3 camera is planned.

NCEF Access

Information on how to submit projects to the National Cryo-EM Facility (NCEF) and get access to the latest technology for high resolution imaging.

Team Members

The National Cryo-Electron Microscopy Facility team is responsible for the operational activities of NCEF. View team member bios and a list of NCEF working group members.

  • Updated: October 13, 2017