Cryo-EM Center Policies

Updated September 16, 2022

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 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 or approval 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 unless previously coordinated with a staff member.
  5. Any equipment must be reserved ahead of time in PPMS ( the use recorded in appropriate log books as instructed by staff during training.
  6. All instrumentation must be cared for as instructed during training, referring to all updated protocols as posted in the facility or on the website ( 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 either verbally or by email ( Do not attempt to repair any equipment. Attempting to correct a malfunction and inadvertently damaging the microscopes can void the facility’s 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, they must inform a staff member. On the microscopes: stop operations, close the column valves, and contact the staff (verbal or email must not attempt to resolve the problem themselves unless specifically instructed by a staff member.
  2. Users should review necessary protocols as posted on the facility website ( or at the facility.
  3. Users are required to monitor their own data collection. Remote access to the cameras is available through the facility’s TeamViewer licenses.
  4. 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.
  5. Users are responsible for securing their own data. Data handling policies are described in detail in the SBGrid Harvard Cryo-EM Center for Structural Biology data policy (

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 restricted to data collection on optimized samples approved by the user’s institution.
  3. To gain access to the microscopes, users must submit a request through PPMS ( for the desired session type. 24-hour sessions require a project proposal prior to submission as described on the facility website ( Microscope sessions will be scheduled by facility staff.
  4. Each project proposal will be reviewed by institutional committees. External academic proposals are reviewed by a special committee. Commercial users do not need a proposal (see Industry addendum). All approved projects will be granted up to four sessions.
  5. A progress report is required to justify additional microscope time (available from
  6. Sessions on the Talos Arctica are available in 24-hour sessions Monday-Thursday; the Friday session extends until Sunday to allow for one longer data collection per week. Tuesdays are reserved for Rapid Access sessions and Wednesdays are reserved for Staff-assisted screening sessions. Unbooked time will be filed with additional Rapid Access sessions. Weekends may be requested by experienced users as determined by the staff. The Talos Arctica will have a cryo-cycle every two weeks with K3 camera annealing occurring concurrently.
  7. Sessions on the Titan Krios microscopes will be scheduled in 24-hour increments based on user preference. With the exception of data collected using the phase plate or tomography sessions, users are recommended to use 24-48 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.
  9. Session cancellations must take place 3 business days in advance of the scheduled session by email (

Grid Management

  1. Grids for 24-hour sessions are required at the facility 3 business days in advance of a scheduled session with completed grid inventory ( Grids for Rapid Access and Staff-assisted screening sessions are due 1 week in advance with a completed grid inventory.
  2. Grids may be shipped to the facility following the instructions on the facility website (
  3. Clipping of grids and loading of samples for use in Talos Arctica and Titan Krios autoloaders will be performed by staff members only.
  4. Grids clipped outside the facility will be loaded providing they pass the facility staff’s internal checks.
  5. 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 their lab follows the Policies and Rules of the facility outlined in the signed user agreement ( and this document.
  2. Prior to a scheduled session, a user must have an active PPMS account with their group designated appropriately for billing purposes.
  3. Charges for each user will be compiled at the end of the month and sent to finance for reconciliation.

Rates and services
Current Consortium Rates and External Rates are listed on the website:

Industrial Rates can be obtained by contacting the facility staff.


We expect the PI 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”.


A staff member will respond if you email:

Industry Addendum

  1. Microscope access:
    1. Both Titan Krios microscopes are available on Mondays to industry users.  If 48-hour sessions are requested, other Mondays will be giving to academic users.
    2. The Talos Arctica is open by staff invitation only and will be booked in 24-hour increments.
    3. All sessions are expected to be independent use with staff assistance only for training, performing alignments, and addressing issues.
  2. Training:
    1. All users are expected to be onsite for training, and at least one training session is required prior to remote usage. Facility staff will determine the number of training sessions necessary based on the user’s ability.
    2. Training sessions are for individuals, not groups. Others may observe but each person requires their own training session.
  3. Remote usage:
    1. Up to 3 users may be logged in remotely using the facility’s TeamViewer licenses. The person assigned on the calendar is responsible for operating the microscope and will be the primary contact for staff during that assigned session.