NDSU receives NIH funding for new transmission electron microscope

NDSU has received a $595,000 award from the National Institutes of Health Shared Instrumentation Grant Program (NIH S10) to fund a new cryo-capable transmission electron microscope (TEM) which will be housed in the Electron Microscopy Center at NDSU.

TEM is a microscopy technique that utilizes a beam of electrons transmitted through a specimen (most often less than 100 nm) to form an image. The instruments are capable of producing high resolution images that can capture detail as fine a single column of atoms. 

The new TEM system supported by the award will allow for preparation and characterization of flash-frozen samples. This cryo-capability will provide critical data for understanding the structure and function of materials such as proteins and soft polymers that cannot be fixed using traditional TEM systems. 

The proposal was led by NDSU chemistry and biochemistry professor Chris Colbert and Scott Payne, PhD, director of the NDSU Electron Microscopy Center will serve as PI. In support of the proposal, Colbert assembled a team of researchers from a broad spectrum of disciplines at NDSU and included information about how their research activities would benefit from the use of the instrument. These individuals include Colbert, Mohiuddin Quadir (assistant professor, coatings & polymeric materials), Yagna Jarajapu (associate professor, pharmaceutical sciences), Sangita Sinha (professor, chemistry and biochemistry), Sheela Ramamoorthy (associate professor, microbiological sciences), Yongki Choi (associate professor, physics), and Achintya Bezbaruah (associate professor, civil & environmental engineering).

“The acquisition of a cryo-capable TEM at NDSU will allow our researchers to expand their research into techniques ranging from small molecule structure determination by microelectron diffraction to protein structure determination by cryoelectron microscopy single particle reconstruction and cellular protein organization by cryoelectron tomography,” stated Colbert. “This electron microscope is critical for making NDSU researchers competitive for access to the NIH’s transformative cryoelectron microscopy service centers.”

The new TEM unit will join the existing microscopy instruments housed in the NDSU Electron Microscopy Center. “This new instrument will replace a 100 kv TEM that is over 30 years old, and also will provide a whole new range of capability not previously available at NDSU,” commented Payne. “As a core service facility, we’re always happy to offer new options to meet the expanding needs of our university researchers.”

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