Types of Project Proposals (i.e. Applications to use S2C2 cryo-EM Facilities)
Service Project: The data collection service project type is carried out by S2C2 staff, or by qualified facility users to collect high-resolution cryoEM data. Preliminary cryoEM data (images, 2D class averages, and/or 3D maps at lower resolution) are a prerequisite for a favorable application review. Approved projects are valid for a period of two years with an optional renewal. Select 'Service Project' when submitting your application via the SLAC User Portal.
Exploratory Freezing & Screening Project: The cryo-specimen preparation project type is provided to users whose projects do not yet qualify as a Service Project due to a lack of compelling preliminary cryoEM results. Our goal is to help investigators, either new to the field or with limited access to resources, successfully optimize their samples for high-resolution data collection. Project scenarios include: i) completely independent users who can perform freezing and TEM grid screening using S2C2 instrumentation (after being certified by S2C2 staff), ii) facility users who require S2C2 staff support for freezing and/or screening, or iii) a purely service-oriented engagement of S2C2 staff without the experimental involvement of the users. Exploratory freezing & screening project applications need to provide evidence of the readiness of the biological samples for freezing to receive a favorable review. Approved projects are valid for a period of one year with a possible extension depending on project progress and resource availability. Select 'Exploratory Freezing & Screening Project' when submitting your application in the SLAC User Portal.
Training Project: The training service project type is offered to individuals who would like to become familiar with the entire workflows of cryoEM methods. This includes cryo-specimen preparation and screening; data collection and processing; and 3D reconstruction, modeling, and validation. Our cryoEM specialists train, assist, and advise users, both onsite and remotely, and are available for consultation before and after microscope sessions. We cross-train scientists who want to employ cryoEM within their own research portfolios. Training is targeted at a wide variety of skill levels - ranging from workshops and short-term training sessions that are onsite or remote, to a longer-term, comprehensive, onsite, in-residence training program.
Trainees with different experience levels and professional backgrounds, such as principal investigators, faculty, staff, postdocs or graduate and undergraduate students, are eligible to apply. Typically, the training will take one-plus months (contiguous or non-contiguous) to complete with additional guidance provided by S2C2 staff for an extended period of up to one year. Remote training is available for cryo-specimen screening, data collection and processing, and structure reconstruction, modeling, and validation; although in person training is preferred for cryo-specimen preparation. Priority is given to trainees who will share the expertise they gain at S2C2 with their home institution. Select 'Project-tailored Training' or 'Comprehensive Training' when submitting an application in the SLAC User Portal.
- Project-Tailored Training: This training program is offered to individuals who have a specific biological research project intended for cryoEM methods. It covers any or all aspects of cryoEM Single Particle Analysis (SPA), cryoET, microED, as needed for the trainee's particular project.
- Comprehensive Training: This training program is offered to individuals who would like to become familiar with all aspects of cryoEM methods not directed toward any specific project. This program is best suited for scientists, early on in their research and training, where biospecimens of interest have yet to be procured, but the scientist is ready for in-person hands-on training of cryoEM workflows. Typically, a standard biological sample, such as apoferritin, is used for comprehensive training.
Who can apply to use the S2C2 cryo-EM Facilities?
S2C2 resources are open to the global scientific community, however, priority is given to NIH-funded projects, then nonprofit projects, followed by proprietary for-profit projects.
What are the project application review criteria?
All project applications are reviewed and approved by an external project review committee. Review criteria are based on the mission of the S2C2, and set forth here. Briefly, access to this resource is based on the feasibility and scientific merit of the project proposed, project readiness, the cryoEM research experience of the investigators, geographic diversity, and the status of the applicants' access to high resolution-capable cryoEM facilities at either their home institution or elsewhere.
Safety and biohazardous material concerns will be reviewed by the Stanford Health and Safety Department's Biosafety & Biosecurity Group and the SLAC Environment, Safety, and Health Division's Biological Safety Program, both at application time and at microscope request time.
How is microscope time allocated?
Microscope time for each approved project will be allocated cumulatively from a few days to weeks divided into multiple, contiguous 24-hour allotments as appropriate for the project (e.g., 1, 2, or 3 consecutive days) and as resource availability permits. All microscope sessions start or end at 9:00 am (PT) and are scheduled on a first requested first served basis.
All users must be registered in the SLAC User Portal and meet all SLAC/DOE access requirements to use the cryoEM facility, which includes safety training, an institutional user agreement, and additional documents to be uploaded.
S2C2 provides technical tools and staff support for world-leading science at no charge with the understanding that significant results are to be publicly disseminated. Users must, therefore, acknowledge in publications the NIH grant that supports facility operations, the supporting S2C2 CryoEM Specialist, and the specific microscope(s) used. Acknowledging the supporting S2C2 CryoEM Specialist is especially appreciated. Expected acknowledgment wording, grant number, and co-authorship policy can be found here. Please inform us of your published results by emailing User Administrator.
What is the cost of usage and training?
None, for academic & nonprofit users. The expenses associated with running and maintaining the facility and compensating the staff are borne by S2C2 federal funding from NIH; however, expenses for biological sample procurement or production, user transportation, local room and board for users, and shipping of samples (and dewar return shipping) will be borne by the project applicants.