The dramatic improvements in the progress of cryo electron microscopy (cryoEM) and cryo electron tomography (cryoET) over the last five years has been accompanied by the adoption of a high level of automation. However, there are several automation challenges that remain to be addressed in the areas of specimen preparation, image acquisition, and analysis. In specimen preparation we need to address methods to ensure routine and robust preparation both of particles embedded in a thin layer of vitreous ice as well as of thin lamella milled from thicker samples. In the area of image acquisition, we anticipate a major increase in throughput assisted by a new generation of direct detectors, as well as additional instrument advances including developing faster and more stable cryo stages and further automation of many of the steps required for high resolution imaging. Finally, in the area of image analysis: for single particles, the software continues to rapidly improve both in terms of speed and in being able to sort out highly heterogeneous populations of molecular complexes, but for cryoET the issue of segmentation remains as a major bottleneck. Addressing these challenges is being driven by the urgent needs of structural biologists and, increasingly, by the needs of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. The latter group in particular is driving the need for much higher automation, throughput, and reproducibility.
Speaker: Bridget Carragher, NY Strucural Biology Center
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