Request for Information (RFI): Screening for High Resolution Cryo-Electron Microscopy
Notice Number:

Key Dates

Release Date:

February 3, 2021

Response Date:
February 26, 2021

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Issued by

Office of Strategic Coordination (Common Fund)


This Request for Information (RFI) solicits input in identifying challenges in screening samples for high resolution cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) by the biomedical research community for the NIH Transformative High Resolution Cryo-Electron Microscopy program.


The NIH Common Fund’s Transformative High Resolution Cryo-EM program has established three National Centers for Cryo-EM. These centers provide access to high-end instrumentation for data collection for single particle cryoEM. They also provide training for investigators lacking experience in single particle cryo-EM. The Centers continue to evolve to improve services and training based on the current needs of the community as each of the Centers gains insight through experience. Challenges in screening samples for data collection suitability prior to applying for Center access and support for people early in the process of adoption of cryo-EM are a potential concern, but the extent and nature of such challenges are unclear. NIH may be able to provide limited support to overcome obstacles in these areas.


This RFI invites comments and suggestions from researchers, cryo-EM facility directors, academic institutions, professional societies, businesses, not-for-profit organizations, other government agencies, and other stakeholders on the hurdles and possible solutions for screening samples in order to expand the pool of investigators competent in cryo-EM and to utilize the Centers more efficiently. The term “screening” encompasses the multiple steps preceding the collection of high-resolution cryoEM data, including sample preparation, grid freezing, and preliminary evaluation with a cryo-EM microscope. Responses to this RFI will help the NIH consider all aspects of screening challenges.

Comments may include, but are not limited to, the bulleted topics below. When appropriate, please also include hyperlinks to pertinent references, databases, or other online resources.

1) Screening Steps/Barriers:

  • obtaining preliminary images in negative stain or ice
  • improving conditions for freezing samples, overcoming preferred orientation, avoiding specimen damage at air/water interface
  • checking that grids are ready for imaging at high resolution prior to sending to a National Center
  • (for facility directors) metrics or insights pertaining to user access for screening steps/barriers

2) Availability or access to:

  • grid preparation equipment
  • 120kV or 200kV electron microscope for screening
  • local advice for improving specimens
  • (for facility directors) metrics or insights pertaining to availability or access


Responses to this RFI must be submitted via email to:


Responses must be received by February 26, 2021.

Responses to this RFI are voluntary. The NIH will use the information submitted in response to this RFI at its discretion and will not provide comments to any responder's submission. Proprietary, classified, confidential, or sensitive information should not be included in your response. The United States government reserves the right to use any non-proprietary technical information in any resultant solicitation(s). Responses to the RFI may be reflected in future funding opportunity announcements and will be used in the long-term planning for the Common Fund. Responses will be compiled and shared internally and with working groups convened by the NIH, as appropriate. In all cases where responses are shared, unless the respondent indicates otherwise, the names of the respondents will be withheld.

This RFI is for planning purposes only and should not be construed as a solicitation for applications or as an obligation on the part of the Government to provide support for any ideas identified in response to it. Please note that the United States Government will not pay for the preparation of any information submitted or for its use of that information.


Please direct all inquiries to:

Paula Flicker, Ph.D.
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Telephone: 301-594-0574

Ravi Basavappa, Ph.D.
Office of Strategic Coordination (OSC)
National Institutes of Health
Telephone: 301-435-7204

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