Cryo-EM (cryo-electron microscopy) and drug discovery
Electron microscopy, invented almost a century ago, has historically been a powerful tool for visualizing the architecture of biologically relevant entities such as viruses, cells and tissue. Over the last two decades, rapid advances in imaging and computation technologies have expanded the usefulness of electron microscopy into exciting new realms. Electron microscopy at cryogenic temperatures, referred to as “cryo-EM” now enables 3D imaging of biological material at an unprecedented level of detail, at resolutions comparable to those achieved using X-ray crystallography. Related methods, using focused ion beams and scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM) are providing novel approaches to visualizing cells and tissue in 3D at a level of detail 10-100 times better than what is possible with optical confocal microscopy.
Our research program is focused on exploring these frontiers of cryo-EM, as they relate to imaging molecules, viruses and cells with the central goal of accelerating the development of effective therapeutic agents to treat cancer, disorders of the brain and infectious diseases such as HIV and influenza.