Northwestern receives grant to buy electron detector

Olivia Exstrum, Assistant Campus Editor

Northwestern researchers will soon be able to peer into the inside of a molecule thanks to an electron detector purchased for use in collaboration with the Chicago Biomedical Consortium.

The CBC, a partnership between NU, the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago, announced Tuesday a $3 million initiative that will provide innovative technology for use by consortium researchers.

“Chicago leads the nation with this new model for more economically acquiring cutting-edge technology for multiple institutions,” Shohei Koide, CBC scientific co-director and UChicago professor said in the release. “This initiative enables the establishment of transformative instrumentation capabilities, which will allow Chicago-area researchers to stay at the forefront of biomedical discovery.”

Researchers will be able to use the detector in the University’s $5 million “cryo-electron microscope core facility” to study molecules. The detector is the first of its kind in the Midwest.

In May 2014, the CBC created the Open Access Initiative, which allows researchers to use facilities at different participating universities free of cost. The new Infrastructure Initiative announced Tuesday, in conjunction with this program, is granting each university $1 million to acquire the technology to be used under the Open Access Initiative.

The CBC is supported by the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust. The CBC will fund three projects: the detector, a $1.6 million cryo-electron microscope at UChicago and a “suite of systems to establish a Single Cell Analysis Core” at UIC.

“Thanks to the generosity of the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust, this latest gift will build on our existing expertise in cryoEM,” Jay Walsh, NU’s vice president for research, said in the release. Walsh also said the partnership will foster relationships with UChicago and UIC.

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