Miller Awarded NIH Grant for TEM Scope

Miller with 3D scope

Sara Miller, PhD, Professor of Pathology, has been awarded a $600,000 NIH equipment grant for a new transmission electron microscope (TEM).  It will serve both the medical center and the university as a Shared Resource.  

This special instrument can operate at 200,000 volts for maximum resolution of biological samples as well as inanimate materials.  It is capable of examining negatively stained small particles, such as proteins and viruses, as well as ultrathin (0.0001 mm) sections of cells and tissues.

Additionally, the new TEM will provide assistance for preparing specimens for the recently awarded $1.3M serial block face scanning microscope that collects data for 3-dimentional (3-D) reconstructions at very high resolution.  Further, tomography of thicker sections for 3-D reconstructions will be possible on the new TEM; this technology involves photographing specimens at different tilts.  Together, the wide capabilities of these two new instruments will provide high resolution of tiny sub-cellular organelles as well as larger areas of cell-to-cell connections in 3-D.  Finally, the new microscope is also upgradable to a cryo microscope for future studies of frozen small particles such as proteins.  

This instrument will be housed in the Department of Pathology’s Electron Microscopy Shared Facility, which has served close to 350 different laboratories, many with multiple users.  The Facility can prepare samples and data for researchers as a full collaborative investigation or teach students and faculty to prepare and examine their own specimens.  It is staffed by the director, Dr. Miller; the Laboratory Manager, Dr. Ricardo Vancini; and Senior Laboratory Analyst, Hal Mekeel; collectively they have over a century of electron microscopy expertise.  For additional information on its use,  visit the web site, call 919 684-3452, or email or

Miller with 3D scope