NECENNetherlands Centre for Electron Nanoscopy (NeCEN)

Contact details:

Susanne Roodhuijzen
Einsteinweg 55
+31 71 527 1421

The Netherlands Centre for Electron Nanoscopy (NeCEN) is the national research facility for high resolution cryo-electron microscopy in the Netherlands. The instrumentation at NeCEN provides the means to resolve and characterise detailed molecular structures of life. Between 2007 and 2011 experts from eleven Dutch organizations worked closely together in a consortium to realize the NeCEN. In 2012 it opened its doors as an open access facility. NeCEN is embedded within Leiden University as part of the Faculty of Science. The instrumentation at NeCEN is especially important for applications of cryo-electron microscopy in the field of structural (cell) biology as it allows the imaging of molecular structures with near-atomic resolution.

Visualizing macromolecular complexes provides important structural information about their
function in biology. The electron density maps of these complexes that can be obtained with cryo-EM can provide structural details with near atomic resolution. At the Netherlands Centre for Electron Nanoscopy (NeCEN) two of the most advanced 300 kV cryo transmission electron microscopes (TEM) are operational as an excellent high-end facility (

The microscopes are continuously upgraded and equipped with state of the art additional technologies (e.g. direct electron detectors, phase plate, spherical aberration corrector) that are all important to attain the highest possible resolution. The infrastructure is especially valuable for structural (cell) biology, as it provides fundamental structural information about biological processes that is critical for the development of novel strategies in prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases. It also plays a crucial role in the development of sustainable products and processes based on biological systems.

Cryo-EM is particularly exciting as it does not require crystals and allows analysis of different conformational states simultaneously. Previously intractable and increasingly large complexes can now be studied in high-resolution detail, with important perspectives for drug development and cellular insights. The combination of high resolution analysis and electron tomography will place these structural details within the cellular context and open up important, groundbreaking opportunities for e.g. neurobiology, infection and immunity, and oncology.

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