High-resolution low-cost 100 kV electron cryogenic microscope for near-atomic protein structure determination

Project Details


Structures of proteins, nucleic acids, and their complexes constitute the basis for understanding the
mechanisms of biological processes on a molecular level. They accelerate drug design and
biotechnological applications. During the last decade, three-dimensional cryogenic electron
microscopy has emerged as the primary method for determining high-resolution structures of
proteins to near-atomic resolution. This includes pharmaceutically relevant human proteins and
pathogens. We pioneered high-resolution cryo-EM in Belgium by setting up VIB-VUB Center for
Biological Electron Cryogenic Microscopy (BECM) in 2017, attracting researchers from the whole of
Belgium along with numerous European and industrial users.
However powerful, cryo-EM is an expensive technique due to the high costs of electron microscopes.
Recent research showed that 1) 100 kV rather than 300 kV electron microscopes are more suitable
for routine structure determination using single particle cryo-EM, and 2) 100 kV microscopes with
direct electron detector (DED) and Field Emission Gun (FEG) can be nearly an order of magnitude
Within this project, our aim is to purchase and build a 100 kV electron microscope on the basis of a
JEOL JEM-1400 microscope equipped with FEG and DED. The microscope will allow users to screen
their cryo-EM samples and determine the structures of proteins within a few hours. It will be
accessible for hourly costs similar to low-resolution screening microscopes.
Effective start/end date1/05/2430/04/28


  • method development for Cryo-EM
  • protein-protein interactions
  • single particle cryo-EM

Flemish discipline codes in use since 2023

  • Membrane structure and transport
  • Cell signalling
  • Plant cell and molecular biology
  • Nucleic acids


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