Collaboration and Service

NCMIR delivers advanced capabilities to the biomedical research community through the development and coordination of three core areas: novel specimen labeling methods, custom designed intermediate voltage electron microscopes (IVEMs), scanning electron microscopes and light microscopes, and advanced computational and graphics facilities. Technology development is driven by the needs of specific biological projects for specimen preparation, 3D investigations, and enhancement of microscopic imaging modes or computational tools. Biological projects that use our technologies are brought to NCMIR through an international NIH P41 sponsored collaborative and service research program.

NCMIR accepts requests for projects from outside users who require the advanced technologies NCMIR offers under two classifications. Collaborative projects usually require significant involvement of NCMIR staff that work with collaborators from the individual projects to incorporate newly developed NCMIR technology and expertise and train outside personnel. Service projects typically involve use of existing NCMIR facilities or technologies and do not require extensive resource staff involvement, but may require some initial training. If a project requires significant staff resources, one or more NCMIR members are usually listed as co-authors on published works. For service projects, attribution of NCMIR's contribution and the P41 NIH grant RR004050 should be provided in the acknowledgements, but no authorship is expected.
Examples of types of collaborative projects driving technology development include

  • following the trafficking of proteins using correlated light and electron microscopies and specific stains
  • exploring in situ structure of supramolecular complexes using electron tomography
  • creating computational models based on tomographic reconstructions
  • developing methods for detection of multiple proteins using electron microscopy
  • using serial blockface scanning electron microscopy to generate large scale volumetric reconstructions
  • furthering electron microscopic imaging capabilities to create unique imaging modalities
  • segmentation and visualization of components within large scale volumes
  • improving reconstruction algorithms for tomography to create higher resolution, more accurate tomograms
  • instrument automation that includes data generation and acquisition, archiving, deposition and annotation of image data

These have been applied to various projects such as infectious diseases, membrane protein trafficking, synapse formation and modification and mitochondrial diseases.

For additional information on accessing NCMIR technologies, see the User Application form.


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