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Open Innovation U.S.A : BCM


About The BCM

BCM - NCMI is under the direction of Dr. Wah Chiu, renowned worldwide for his contributions to the field of biological cryo-electron microscopy and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. NCMI has pioneered high throughput methods for imaging and solving 3-dimensional structures of macromolecular machines at unprecedented resolutions. The group has determined cryo-EM structures of the acrosomal bundle, ion channel, viruses, chaperonins, membranes, oligomeric proteins and cytoskeletal protein complexes. They have traced the C-α backbone of protein components in several large molecular nanomachines using single particle cryo-EM and image processing without the aid of crystallography. Structural investigations have produced not only novel structural informatics but also insightful functional mechanisms on protein folding and virus infection respectively.

In recent publications, the team has looked beyond the icosahedral protein shell of the episilon15 bacteriophage that infects Salmonella bacteria. They have described different molecular parts involved in binding to host cells, injecting DNA into the cell and packaging it during the virus formation. Additionally, recent work has included building the first atomic model directly from a single particle cryo-EM density map of Mm-cpn, a Group II chaperonin, or mediator of cellular protein folding in eukaryotes and archaea.


The NCMI engages in collaborative and service projects with a variety of groups around the world. Structures studied by electron microscope and image processing range from molecules around 47 kDa to cellular structures well over several MDa in size. Four high-resolution electron cryo-microscopes make up the imaging core of the NCMI whereas several clusters provide the computational resources.


  • Phase Plate technology on the JEM-2200FS outfitted with a Gatan 4k camera

  • JEM-2100-LaB6 outfitted with a Gatan 4k CCD camera

  • JEM-2010F-FasTEM equipped with a Gatan 4k and a DirectElectron 12 Mpix DDD camera

  • JEM-3200FSC outfitted with a Gatan 10k camera and a 12 Mpix DirectElectron DDD camera

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