Cryo-EM Center Policies

 Approved February 10, 2020 - updated November 1, 2020(*) - updated February 16, 2021(**) - updated April 13, 2021***

The Harvard Cryo-EM Center for Structural Biology is a collaboration among Harvard University, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston Children’s Hospital, and Massachusetts General Hospital. The facility, housed on the Harvard Medical School campus, provides expertise and instrumentation to aid users in cryo-EM methods for structure determination. The facility offers consultation and training by staff members in specimen preparation, microscope operation, image acquisition, and data analysis. Access to our instrumentation is available to members of the contributing institutions, subject to project approval by a committee at the user’s institution, and to external academic institutions and commercial users. To ensure that the resources at the facility are available at the highest performance level and with minimal downtime, the Executive Committee of the Cryo-Electron Microscopy Center has approved the following rules and policies. Please note that the policies, rules and rates will be reviewed periodically by the Executive Committee and are subject to change. Failure to adhere to these polices may result in user suspension or even permanent revocation of facility privileges.

General Rules

  1. All users must be able to provide evidence of completed X-Ray Device Safety training.  Users with HUIDs can access the Harvard Training Portal (, search for 'x-ray device safety' and do the X-Ray Device Safety training module.
  2. All users must receive formal training from facility staff before independent microscope and ancillary equipment use is granted. Training is requested through PPMS (***
  3. Only the user who has been assigned time is allowed to operate the instrument during their session.
  4. Users are not allowed to train anyone on equipment or allow them to use equipment under their supervision.
  5. Any equipment must be reserved ahead of time in PPMS and the use recorded in appropriate log books.
  6. All instrumentation must be cared for as instructed during training.  Abuse of any piece of equipment will result in loss of user privileges.
  7. Problems involving any of the equipment must be reported to facility staff immediately. Do not attempt to repair any equipment. Attempting to correct a malfunction and inadvertently damaging the microscopes can void our service agreement with the manufacturer. If an unresolved error causes termination of the session the user will not be billed for the remainder of the booked time.

User Rules and Responsibilities

  1. If users experience any problems while operating the instruments (Red error on user interface) they must inform a staff member. On the microscopes: stop operations, close the column valves, and contact the on-call staff member immediately (24-hour contact is posted). Users must not attempt to resolve the problem themselves unless specifically instructed by a staff member.
  2. Users must treat the shared cryo-EM equipment with care (from tweezers to the microscopes). No instruments/tools/chemicals should be removed from the facility at any time. If any tools are missing or damaged, the user should report the problem to a staff member at the beginning of the user’s session.
  3. As described in the SBGrid Harvard Cryo-EM Center for Structural Biology data policy (, users are responsible for securing their data. Data will be deleted automatically without warning seven days after completion of data collection.

Instrument sign up / Time assignment

  1. Microscope access is allocated based on the initial financial contributions of each institution.
  2. The Talos Arctica may be used for both sample screening and data collection. Titan Krios use is strictly restricted to data collection on optimized samples approved by the user’s institution.  
  3. To gain access to the microscopes, users must submit a project proposal as described on the facility website (  Each project proposal will be reviewed by institutional committees.  All approved projects will be granted four sesssions.
  4. Microscope sessions will be scheduled by facility staff after committee approval.
  5. A progress report is required to justify additional microscope time (available from
  6. Sessions on the Talos Arctica are available in 24-hour or 48-hour sessions Monday-Thursday; the Friday session extends until Sunday to allow for one longer data collection per week.  The Talos Arctica will have a cryo-cycle every two weeks with K3 camera annealing occurring concurrently. 
  7. Data collection on the Titan Krios will be scheduled in 24-hour increments based on user preference of their assigned sessions.  With the exception of data collected using the phase plate, users are recommended to use 48 hours per session.  Each Titan Krios will have a cryo-cycle every two weeks with K3 camera annealing occurring concurrently.
  8. Vitrobot users can sign up for time through PPMS (*. Time requests are reviewed and approved by the facility staff.

Grid Management

  1. Grids are required at the facility 3 business days in advance of a scheduled session with completed Grid box inventory sheet(s) (
  2. Clipping of grids and loading of samples for use in Talos Arctica and Titan Krios autoloaders will be performed by staff members only.  Clipped grids from established cryo-EM facilities may also be accepted following consultation with a staff member.
  3. Samples must be retrieved within 7 days of completion of the microscope session. The facility will not be responsible for long term storage of samples.

Billing Details

  1. The Principal Investigator (PI) is responsible for ensuring that each user from his/her lab follows the Policies and Rules of the facility outlined in this document.
  2. Prior to a scheduled session, a Billing Form must be filled out and returned to the facility staff.  The Billing Form can be downloaded from the facility website (
  3. Charges for each user will be compiled at the end of the month and sent to finance for reconciliation.

Rates and services
Consortium Rates (FY 2020/21)*

Talos Arctica $1032 per day (equivalent to $43 per hour)
Titan Krios $1632 per day (equivalent to $68 per hour)
Microscope Training $260 per 4-hr session
(in addition to microscope cost)




External Academic Rates (FY 2020/21)*

Talos Arctica $1704 per day (equivalent to $43+$28 F&A per hour)
Titan Krios $2160 per day (equivalent to $68+$22 F&A per hour)
Microscope Training $260 per 4-hr session
(in addition to microscope cost)




Industrial Rates can be obtained by contacting the facility staff.

Consumables (will be charged at cost)

C-Clip ~$2
C-Clip ring ~$16
Autogrid box ~$13*


We expect the Principal Investigator and the User to acknowledge the support of The Harvard Cryo-EM Center for Structural Biology in research publications arising from their use of the facility. This acknowledgment should include the following or similar “Cryo-EM data were collected at The Harvard Cryo-EM Center for Structural Biology at Harvard Medical School”.

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