State-of-the-art regional Cryo-Electron Microscopy Facility to open

A new state-of-the-art Cryo-EM facility that will advance the understanding of the processes of life is being officially opened at the University.

The facility will be opened by Dr Richard Henderson, from the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, who was one of three scientists to win the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry “for developing cryo-electron microscopy for the high-resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution.”  He will launch the Midlands Regional Cryo-Electron Microscope (Cryo-EM) Facility – hosted at the Leicester Institute of Structural and Chemical Biology -  on Tuesday 10 April at the University.

Data from a test sample at the Cryo-EM Facility.

The Cryo-EM facility brings cutting-edge research technologies to the Midlands and represents another successful collaboration within the Midlands Innovation partnership. The University of Leicester led the successful bid, in collaboration with the Universities of Warwick, Nottingham and Birmingham, to establish the facility. The total investment exceeds £6M with £3.7M from the Medical Research Council (MRC). The four partner Universities provided the remaining funds with a major contribution from the University of Leicester (£1.8M).

The revolution in Cryo-Electron Microscopy has been driven by developments in the microscopes themselves, the camera systems, and in the computational methods used to process the images. This has allowed the latest generation of Cryo-EMs, such as the one in Leicester, to generate 3 dimensional structures of bio-molecules in exquisite detail. This enables scientist to understand the mechanisms through which molecular machines in our cells perform the key functions of life fit. This can lead to understanding disease processes and how best to address them.

This regional facility will establish a Midlands Cryo-EM ‘ecosystem’ that will enable the sharing of equipment and expertise and will help to strengthen existing and establish new scientific collaborations across the region.