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Research Facilities at the Department of Biochemistry


Welcome to the BiocEM Cryo-EM Facility at the Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge.

The facility was established in 2017 with financial contributions from Welcome Trust, the University of Cambridge, and the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research (CIMR).

We provide access to cryo-electron microscopes, training, support and scientific guidance for academic and industrial users wishing to perform Cryo-EM experiments.

The Cryo-EM Facility is located on level 00 of the Sanger Building.

The facility is part of a more extensive collection of service and research facilities in the Department of Biochemistry.

In collaboration with BioNTech, the Facility is upgrading its Titan Krios cryo-electron microscope detector to Falcon4i/SelectrisX (by ThermoFisher Scientific). The work has commenced on November 9, 2023 and will take a few weeks to complete.

Cryo-EM Facility Operating Procedures

Updated May 10, 2023

Please note, the following procedures are subject to change in response to feedback from users and facility staff.
We appreciate your patience and understanding.

1. Face coverings are not compulsory but can be worn if users wish to do so.
2. Please do not come into the facility if you feel unwell. We can run your microscope session and provide a remote feed. 
2. Only 3 people per microscope during session, that includes the Facility staff if they run the session.
3. Only 3 people per Vitrobot during session, that includes the Facility staff if they run the session.

1. Users may book microscopes themselves, using the on-line booking system
2. All bookings can be amended by the Facility staff, at short notice if necessary. Any alterations will be communicated to the user as soon as possible.
3. Grid screening and/or data collection session can be run by the Facility staff without user’s presence at the Facility (as has been standard practice for the COVID19 era). All communications in this case will be done electronically. Please inform the facility manager prior to your session if you intend to be present during the session.
4. All microscope’s interactive sessions start at 9am and must finish by 4pm. 8-9am and 4-5pm are reseved for the facility to perform housekeeping procedures.
5. A maximum of 11 grids may be loaded on both microscopes. However, the actual number of grids screened during the session will be limited by the end-time of the session (screening/collection setup must finish by 4pm).
6. Overnight data collections will be stopped at 8am.
7. For the weekend sessions, obtain permission from the Facility Manager before making the booking.
8. External users: contact the Facility manager at least 3 days before the beamtime for instruction on how to deliver the grids to the facility, which grids to load to the microscope. Failure to do so, may result in your booking being cancelled without refund of charges.

1. Both Vitrobot 1 and 2 are available. Location - room 00.05. The glow discharger is also located in this room. 
2. A new procedure for condensing the ethane safely is now in place. Contact Lee Cooper (lrc44 at for more information.
3. The default session duration is 2 hours. However, the actual use time is only 1 hour 45 minutes. The last 15 minutes of the session are left to ensure there is no overlap between users. Please plan and book accordingly.
4. All surfaces and equipment must be cleaned after use with 70% ethanol (spray bottle and tissue are provided). Follow the printed procedures available next to each instrument. 
5. Please use your own pipettes, pipette tips, pens, or consumables items.
6. Wear clean gloves and lab coat when working in the facility.
7. If you require grids storage buttons/tubes, contact facility staff. Do so ahead of the session.

1. The Facility will keep your data on its servers for at least 14 days from the date when your data collection session is started. After this period your data will be deleted without any further warning.
2. For SPA (single particle analysis) data collection runs, we routinely perform processing of the data with WARP to ensure the microscopes are performing well and the data collection parameters were chosen appropriately.
3. Particle reconstruction calculations with CryoSPARC can also be performed by facility staff if time permits and with prior agreement. This analysis is not considered to be a routine function of the Cryo-EM facility services provided. All non-routine tasks performed by Facility Staff should be appropriately acknowledged as recommended in guidelines of Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities.
4. WARP/CryoSPARC processing data can be deleted immediately after the session. Please request for a copy of the files to be handed to you in a timely manner.

1. Ttraining sessions are available for users from Univeristy of Cambridge and affiliated institutions only.
2. Training sessions for grid preparation with Vitrobots are now available. Only one person per training session. Contact Lee Cooper (lrc44 at, put “Training” in the Subject line) for more information.
3. Training for the microscope operation is also available, but only for users providing their own grids/samples. We do not offer “dry run” training sessions for now unless there are exceptional curcumstances. Let Dima Chirgadze (dyc21 at know that you wish to be trained as soon as possible after booking your microscope session. Training sessions will have a limit of 6 grids only. Users must have received training on the Talos Artica before requesting training on the Titan Krios.


The Cryo-EM Facility team