12:35 PM
 | 
May 16, 2018
 |  BC Extra  |  Politics & Policy

NIH to increase cryo-electron microscopy access

NIH said it will establish three cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) centers under a six-year, $128 million initiative to increase access to the technology. The centers will be housed by the Oregon Heath & Science University (OHSU) in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), the New York Structural Biology Center and Stanford University.

The initiative, dubbed the Transformative High Resolution Cryo-Electron Microscopy program, is supported through NIH's Common Fund.

Cryo-EM is used to identify a molecule's structure, with applications in characterizing therapeutic targets and enabling drug development. The technique has gained recognition in recent years after advances in the technology have expanded its capabilities and made it more attractive to pharmaceutical companies (see BioCentury Innovations, July 14, 2016).

OHSU said it and PNNL will only charge users for sample shipping or travel to and from the center. NIH said all three centers are expected to offer limited services by year end.

OHSU said part of NIH's funding will go towards increasing the efficiency and processing speed of its supercomputer, which analyzes cryo-EM data.

NIH expects to supply an additional $1.5 million to train cryo-EM users. It has awarded four, three year grants to create cryo-EM training programs at the California Institute of Technology, Purdue University, University of Utah and Yale University.

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