Broadening access to high-resolution
cryo-electron microscopy and tomography

Application Process

Thank you for your interest in submitting an application to the National Network for Cryo-ET. The sections below describe the process for evaluating applications, including review criteria and approximate timeline to evaluate an application.

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Receipt and administrative review

Upon receipt, applications are administratively reviewed to ensure that each section of the application is filled out correctly and completely. Applications that are administratively correct are forwarded on to reviewers for evaluation at the end of the review period. An e-mail acknowledgment is sent to the submitter confirming that the application has been received and forwarded on for review. If there are any administrative deficiencies or if an application has sections that are incomplete or unclear, the applicant is notified with an opportunity to clarify or correct the deficiency. If you do not receive either a confirmation that your application has been forwarded on for review or that your application requires corrections before it can be reviewed, reach out to us at cryoem@biochem.wisc.edu.

Alignment with the mission of the Network

Each application will be scored in a manner that aligns with the mission of the Network. The centers established by this NIH initiative have the following mission:

  1. The NIH has recognized that there is a lack of state-of-the-art specimen preparation capabilities as required to support the growing need for cryo-ET. This Network will provide specimen preparation services for the cryo-ET research community as:
    • a. Standard cryo-ET preparation services for user research laboratories
    • b. User training in specimen preparation and cryo-ET data acquisition
    • c. Advanced methods development for cryo-ET specimen preparation
  2. The NIH recognizes that many research institutions lack ready access to cryo-TEM instrumentation and expertise. The network hub, MCCET, will provide cryo-TEM data acquisition and training for these investigators.
  3. Project applications should provide enough time and support for users to complete their work as balanced against the strategic goal of making services widely available.

As noted in the NIH RFA, the scope of this cryo-ET initiative is limited to the analysis of native, frozen-hydrated specimens using 3-D (tomographic) transmission electron microscopy. Other emerging technologies, while important, are outside the scope of this initiative.

Quarterly Reviews

Applications are collected within quarterly review periods and scored at the end of each submission period.

Review process and scoring methodology

Applications are filtered into one of three main categories: Training, Service or Methods Development. The applicant has the opportunity to select the category during the application process. If a category is not identified by the applicant, one will be assigned during the review process. Applications may contain – and most are likely to contain – elements from more than one of these three categories. Applications will not be penalized for focusing only on one category or for containing elements from multiple categories.

Consistent with the mission of the Network, reviewers will be asked to evaluate:

  1. The appropriateness of cryo-ET toward the scientific results.
  2. The need for cryo-ET specimen preparation as provided by the centers.
  3. The strength of the user training component.
  4. The overall significance of the research being performed.
  5. The probability of success in preparing and in analyzing the prepared samples.
  6. The overall availability of cryo-ET specimen preparation techniques to the investigator.

Project Approval

Approved applications will move on as projects within the network to be queued in order based on their score relative to other approved applications and the capacity of each center to take on new projects. Applicants will be notified of their status once this process is complete.

Project Start

An individual center will be initially assigned to begin a project and that center will reach out directly to the applicant for scheduling and sample submission.

Important Notes on Applications

Each application should have one applicant designated as the Laboratory Head who will be the primary contact for the project. By default, the applicant will initially be marked as the Laboratory Head, but if a different person than the applicant will be the primary contact or group leader for the project they will need to be added on the application and marked as the role of Laboratory Head. There should be only one designated Laboratory Head for each project.

Projects that will include multiple group members visiting for training or instrumentation will need to have each of the group members included in the application under the Personnel tab.

Applicants should upload a PDF of their NIH formatted biosketch with their project. A biosketch should be provided for the Laboratory Head and for any additional members where available. See the instructions for the common NIH format here. New NIH formatted biosketch documents can be created with the SciENcv tool available online here.

An application will not be considered finalized until you select Submit Proposal on the final review page. Until this point all entries can be revisited and edited. After submission, the application will be locked for further edits and will be forwarded for an administrative review to find any missing items or issues before being sent for a scoring review.

Frequently Asked Questions

No. Proposals that do not contain a training component will not be penalized. Consider the "Single Instrument Access" or "Multiple Instrument Access" categories for your proposal.

Yes. Training is a core mission of the network, and training-only proposals will be evaluated on the merit of the training component. Consider the "Single Workflow Training" category for your proposal.

Yes. We will make every effort to pair applicants with a preferred center.

All research publications supported by one or more of the NIH-funded Cryo-ET Centers (Midwest Center for Cryo-ET (MCCET): U24 GM139168; CU Boulder Center for Cryo-ET (CCET): U24 GM139174; National Center for In-Situ Tomographic Ultramicroscopy (NCITU): U24 GM139171; Stanford-SLAC CryoET Specimen Preparation Center (SCSC): U24 GM139166) must acknowledge their support by citing the associated grant numbers in the form:

MCCET: “A portion of this research was supported by NIH grant U24 GM139168 and performed at the Midwest Center for Cryo-ET (MCCET) and the Cryo-EM Research Center in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.”

CCET: “A portion of this research was supported by NIH grant U24 GM139174 and performed at the CU Boulder Center for Cryo-ET (CCET) at the University of Colorado, Boulder.”

NCITU: “A portion of this research was supported by NIH grant U24 GM139171 and performed at the National Center for In-Situ Tomographic Ultramicroscopy (NCITU) in the Simons Electron Microscopy Center at the New York Structural Biology Center.”

SCSC: “A portion of this research was supported by NIH grant U24 GM139166 and performed at the Stanford-SLAC CryoET Specimen Preparation Center (SCSC) at Stanford-SLAC.”

Users of the NIH-funded Cryo-ET Centers who publish should communicate information about and citations for these publications to the centers used. The users should also include a short explanation about the contribution of the Cryo-ET Centers to the publication. All publications should adhere to NIH standards surrounding resource and data sharing.