UW-Madison's New Cryo-EM Research Center Receives NIH Grant
With its opening in early 2020, the journey to bring a cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) facility to the University of Wisconsin-Madison began with a UW2020 funding award. Building on this momentum, the university has recently received a grant for $22.7 million over six years from the National Institutes of Health to create a national center for imaging techniques and serve as the initiative's central hub which includes three other new centers at Stanford University, the University of Colorado-Boulder, and the New York Structural Biology Center.
Cryo-EM is a technique that allows researchers to get an extremely detailed look at a molecular structure, a capability with a breadth of applications that span across all of biotechnology and biomedical research and opens the door for significant new contributions to enzymology, virology, cell biology, and medicine. This versatile technology can transform our understanding of scientific challenges including the molecular basis for diseases, and the discovery and development of drug treatments and other novel therapies – particularly relevant as we face the current impact of COVID-19.
Even though the microscopes are housed at the Hector F. DeLuca Biochemical Sciences Complex – a building designed by Flad and recently renovated by the same project team to house the center – use of the cryo-EM technology is intended to bridge the campus's structural biology community, spanning from basic biology, medicine, and agriculture to engineering and computer science.
The center will foster collaborations on and off campus, as well as engage students to train the next generation of scientists. Hiring for the center has been underway for over two years, developing a team of experts in this burgeoning technology. Many of the faculty coming together to establish the facility are also working to design coursework to teach undergraduates and graduate students about this new technology.
December 22, 2020