PNCC is committed to training interested users to become independent practitioners of cryo-EM. The offered trainings include both group and personalized training in the fundamentals of sample preparation methods, microscope design and operation, and image analysis and modeling.


Multiple avenues are available for learning cryo-EM at PNCC.

An Annual Symposium will host invited speakers, PNCC faculty, and PNCC staff presenting lectures on cryo-EM advances and highlighting any changes at PNCC that most impact our users. The symposium will be open to the public. The presentations will be captured and leveraged as persistent online educational resources, allowing us to switch to the most topical issues each year. Half of the symposium will consist of presentations by user postdocs and students to build a community of users who learn from each other. More information on the annual symposium will be available soon.


Intensive Workshops will be held monthly and primarily involve hands-on activities. Small-class presentations will accompany the hands-on training to review pertinent material from online resources and to provide details on advanced and new topics to help trainees get the most from each hands-on activities. Before arriving at PNCC for workshops, users must complete required online didactic units and pass relevant online assessments. More information on the workshops will be available soon.


Personal Trainer Sessions will be available for all interested users who plan to visit PNCC directly for sample analysis. The training will be supervised use—with a coach looking over the user’s shoulder—and tailored to the user’s specific sample and matching cryo-EM methodology. All but highly experienced electron microscopists are required to have completed the relevant workshop modules so that this one-on-one time is used efficiently. All users, new and experienced, are required to schedule supervised time until certified for independent usage after at least two successful sessions. A PNCC Staff point of contact (POC) for each successfully awarded user project will be provided upon proposal award. Users interested in Personal Trainer Sessions must coordinate with their POC.


Apprenticeships are available for outside graduate students (who have completed the Intensive Workshops) to be embedded with and shadow staff at PNCC for periods of one to three months.  This is an opportunity for those students to consolidate their training and provide a solid foundation for professional development. Students interested in applying for Apprenticeships should contact their PNCC staff Intensive Workshop trainer. 

At the core of PNCC training are nine online modules and eight hands-on training modules covering all aspects of cryo-EM. Accompanying each module is a brief, multiple-choice self-assessment for users to gauge their understanding while facilitating placement within the PNCC workflow. Completion of each online module is required before participating in the corresponding hands-on training module or advancement to another module of online training. Brief descriptions of each module are found below. Access to modules will start in early 2019.

Training sessions