Cryo-EM: How We Work

Collaborating to Advance Your Science

Cryogenic electron microscopy, or cryo-EM, is an exciting and quickly advancing field of structural biology that can answer a variety of questions about protein form and function. Recent advances in cryo-EM technologies allow investigators to determine biomolecular structures at near-atomic resolutions. These insights can inform applications ranging from structure-based drug design to mutational analysis. Cryo-EM also captures dynamic movements of large protein complexes and molecular machines that cannot be visualized using other structural biology techniques.

Our team empowers users to produce their own cryo-EM data to help reveal the structure and function of large proteins. We understand that each sample is unique and every project has different objectives. Our primary focus is training users in cryo-EM techniques that will enable them to determine the high-quality protein structures that will further their scientific progress.

To support users, we have equipped the facility with state-of-the art instruments for specimen processing and data collection and processing, as well as live-processing software and temporary data storage. Expert Cryo-EM core staff members are available to provide guidance at every step, from experimental design to data analysis.

Researchers working on a computer
Drs. Caleigh Azumaya (left) and Melody Campbell (right) discuss data collection parameters at the Glacios microscope control desk. Photo by Robert Hood / Fred Hutch News Service

Cryo-EM Workflow

Cryo-EM projects begin and end in users’ own labs. Cryo-EM staff members are available to consult at every step of the experimental process, from sample preparation to image analysis. We also train users in the experimental steps conducted within the Cryo-EM facility, including grid generation, microscope use and data collection and analysis. Below is an example of a typical cryo-EM workflow.

Workflow for developing a PDX model from a patient donation Workflow for developing a PDX model from a patient donation Workflow for developing a PDX model from a patient donation