Training in Cryo-EM for Southern Africa
Single-particle cryogenic electron microscopy (cyryo-EM) has the potential to advance our understanding of fundamental biology. The Electron Microscope Unit at the University of Cape Town is the only facility in Africa with the capacity to conduct these experiments, but is currently underutilized. The goal of this project is to grow a network of Southern African cryo-EM users to increase the use of this technique and drive its implementation at other institutions.
This will be accomplished by raising awareness of cryo-EM through online workshops; creating an information portal for researchers wishing to conduct experiments; and by providing one-on-one hands-on practical workshop training. This practical training component is at the core of the project. Participants with no prior cryo-EM experience, who are actively involved in projects with suitable samples, will be selected and funded. They will be guided through the stages of optimising cryo-grids, collecting data, and processing them. A subset of these samples will be sent to international facilities for high-resolution data collection. On return to their home institutions, researchers will be asked to give seminars based on their experiences. A full-time postdoctoral fellow and specialist staff will support scientists through this process. Interested technical staff from other imaging facilities in the region will also be included in the training, which will be tailored to their experiences and requirements. The team’s long-term vision is to build capacity to support a community of experts in the Southern African region around an advanced biological imaging facility, including a high-resolution cryo-electron microscope.