The primary goal of the Electron Microscopy staff is to maintain the EM facility, train new investigators and assist facility users in obtaining the best possible results from the equipment available. We are knowledgeable in the aspects of electron microscopy that are provided in the EM expertise unit. If required, we will offer advice on the suitability and quality of preparation methods.
Please contact the expertise unit to schedule an initial meeting. EM projects can be extensive and expensive. To gain access to the EM equipment, users must meet with us to discuss the scope of the project, how to procure and fix tissues, realistic time-lines, budgetary concerns and other issues which might arise. During this initial meeting, the scientific objectives and experimental details of your project will be discussed. Please bring a short presentation about your project, relevant articles that explain the project and any techniques you may be trying to reproduce. We will work with you to design the EM study and schedule the work.
In case of a major contribution by a EM-facility staff member, s/he should be included as a co-author. In case the results of your experiments include electron microscopy executed at this Electron Microscopy expertise unit and these results are published (as well as in abstracts, presentations, posters and grant proposals) you HAVE TO acknowledge the EM-facility as well as personnel involved in this publications. Refer to it as follows: "...Electron Microscopy Platform & Bio Imaging Core, Department of Neurosciences KU Leuven, VIB – KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease Research...".
And in case of valuable help by an Electron Microscopy Platform staff member, you HAVE TO acknowledge him/her by referring to his/her name, followed by the referral to the Electron Microscopy expertise unit as pointed out above.
Investigators are requested to provide information to the Electron Microscopy Platform once they use any data for publications, posters, presentations, etc. Please send us a copy of the bibliographic reference or a PDF of the publication (poster, presentation information) for our records.
Users must understand that EM technology may present a health risk if used improperly. In case of any doubt, ask the staff about disposal and handling of these chemicals. The staff will be happy to provide users with instructions on how to handle chemicals and instruments in a safe manner. Most procedures in electron microscopy require the use of uranyl acetate or osmium tetroxide. Users who will be exposed to uranyl acetate solutions need to register for a class in radiation safety before being allowed to start their work in the lab. If you want to use osmium tetroxide, ask the staff about the correct handling and waste disposal. Chemicals as well as instruments cannot be removed from the EM expertise unit at any time without permission of an EM staff member. Users of the facility should not store samples, solutions or other materials (grids, blocks, etc.) within the facility unless authorized by staff and if so only in designated areas.
Every computer is protected by a login and a password. Users are not allowed to download or install software on any of the computers within the facility. These computers should be used for the sole purpose of imaging samples at the microscope. Users are asked to immediately transfer their files and delete them from the hard disk. These hard disks will be cleaned by the staff on a regular basis and files will be deleted without notification. The computer operating the SEM and TEM should at no time be used to browse the internet and read/write emails.
Problems involving any of the equipment must be reported to the staff immediately, this will help ensure speedy repairs. Please do not attempt to repair equipment on your own. In case of emergency, telephone numbers, including cell phone numbers of the EM technicians are posted at the door of the EM room. In case you can't reach a staff member when having problems, turn off the equipment or at least turn off the filament (TEM) and email to the personnel or leave a note on the machine.
Always keep the EM lab clean!
The main functions of our EM experts are to maintain the facility, train new users and assist facility users in obtaining the best possible results from the equipment available. It is however NOT a function of the staff to clean the mess left behind by facility users! May we respectfully request that all users maintain all common areas in spotlessly clean and well organized condition at all times. This will ascertain everyone's safety and vastly improve the quality of your own results. Access to the facility will be revoked to repeat offenders. All standard safety rules for chemical and electrical Laboratories must be observed at all times. It is the responsibility of all users to ensure that the equipment and lab space is left ready for the next user at the end of their session and that the lab area is kept tidy. All materials stored in the refrigerator, desiccators, fume hoods or prep labs must contain the chemical's name, the user's name and the date. Any unlabeled materials will be promptly discarded by EM expertise unit staff. Core fume hoods, refrigerators and other storage spaces are not to be used for permanent storage of of your materials. Equipment left unattended but still in use must have a note designating the user and duration of use. Always keep the EM space clean. Clean up afterwards and correctly dispose chemical waste. Spills of chemicals need to be cleaned immediately. In particular, users should take great care in cleaning any contamination on bench space, fume hoods, instruments, etc. Failure to clean the lab area after usage will result in you (your PI) being charged for cleaning.
We ask that all the users show respect towards the other users and the facility staff, otherwise access to the Electron Microscopy expertise unit may be revoked. It is not a function of the staff to act exclusively as research support staff for individual investigators. Please keep in mind, we will not always be able to interpret findings, since we are not necessarily specialists in the investigators particular field. Interpretation and analysis of images obtained from the microscopes is the responsibility of the investigator.