• November 2018

13 Nov - A new toy for our EM facility arrived: a new “plunge-freezer”; the Leica EM GP2!!!

A plunge-freezer is an instrument to vitrify (= freeze without ice crystal formation) very thin films of mostly suspensions of isolated protein fractions, vesicles, bacteria or cells on EM-support grids.  This process stabilizes the ultrastructure of the sample without the need for chemical fixation.  The vitrified grids are observed and imaged at -180°C under low electron dose conditions in a transmission electron microscope.

In general, the plunge-freezing process implies the application of a tiny drop of a suspension by a micropipette onto a grid held by a forceps in the plunge-freezer, incubation of the suspension for a few seconds, blotting off the access of suspension and finally plunging the grid into a liquid nitrogen cooled puddle of ethane close to its freezing point.

The Leica EM GP2 replaces our current - mostly manually operated - model, that has served us well, because the new instrument has a number of important advantages.  It offers the possibility to parameterize many factors, such as the relative humidity, incubation time, blotting time and number of blots, and several others.  As blotting, one of the most critical steps of the process, can be fully automatic, it is expected that this will highly improve reproducibility.  In addition, the excellent control of environmental conditions during the process will reduce contamination of the grids by condensing water vapor greatly.

In summary, we are confident that the acquisition of the Leica EM GP2 plunge-freezer will improve the success rate of the freezing process importantly.

  • October 2017

4 Oct - NOBEL prize 2017 for cryo-electron microscopy
The Nobel prize for Chemistry 2017 went to 3 investigators (Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson) whose scientific contributions have led to our current ability to determine the 3D-structure of biomolecules by cryo-electron microscopy.

Conventional preparation techniques for electron microscopy use chemical preparation of biological samples, inevitably influencing the observed ultrastructure to a more or lesser extent.  Cryo-EM at the other hand, uses ultra-rapid cooling of a very thin film of a suspension containing the molecules of interest, vitrifying the sample without formation of ice-crystals that could damage the ultrastructure.  By applying mathematical algorithms (single particle analysis) to thousands of images of the molecules of interest in many different orientations in the vitrified suspension, the 3D-structure of the molecules is revealed. By recent technological advances in instrumentation it is now possible to obtain 3D-structures at atomic resolution.  This information can contribute to solving many questions in biomedical context. See also

Whereas we in Leuven use cryo-EM for elucidating ultrastructural features of lipid structures in particular (exosomes, liposomes, etc.) with less demanding resolution requirements, our VIB-colleagues in Brussels (Rouslan Efremov, Structural Biology, VIB@VUB) will install a high-end cryo-electron microscope (expected 2018) for pursuing 3D-structure of biomolecules as described above.

  • July 2017

12-13 July - Conference the Fransis Crick Institute

  • May 2017

2 May - Come join our seminar!

  • April 2017

Dragonfly software

Our new program for 3D visualization and analysis – Dragonfly Pro (Zeiss).

  • Easy to use
  • Python scripting for total control
  • Scout-and-Zoom for efficient multi-scale
  • Extensive quantification toolkit
  • 2D histographic segmentation
  • Stunning graphics engine

Find more:

We finished the installation of our NEW SCANNING ELECTRON MICROSCOPE, next step – SECOM platform!

  • March 2017

arrival new SEM!

  • January 2017

arrival of our new PhD student

We are pleased to welcome our new PhD student Dorien Vandael who will join our group in January 2017!

  • November 2016

30 Nov - Introduction and overview of electron microscopy including CLEM by Pieter Baatsen

Seminar in framework of the "Advanced Microscopy course", which is organized in the context of the research track series for the master in biomedical sciences (BMW). When: Wednesday November 30th, 09:00-12:00h. Location: HP3 (O&N2, campus Gasthuisberg).

  • October 2016

New software Amira

Welcome to our new Amira program for Life Sciences 3D visualization and analysis. Amira is a powerful, multifaceted 3D software platform for visualizing, manipulating and understnading data from computed tomography, microscopy and many other imaging modalities. With incredible speed and flexibility, Amira enables advanced 3D imaging workflows.

  • January 2016

We just finished the installation of our new electron microscope!

Welcome to our Serial Block-Face Electron Microscopy Field Emission ZEISS Sigma Variable pressure with 3View technology from Gatan technology for exceptional imaging and analysis. In combination with the 3View ultramicrotome, it allows for high resolution, 3D imaging of tissues and even whole organisms, such as Drosophila. In the shortest possible time. Location: O&N4, 7th floor in room 07.438.

It is installed and it is ready to go!