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DKK 30 million for high-tech electron microscopes for research in molecular cell biology

The Minister for Higher Education and Science has approved funding for three new research infrastructures, of which DKK 30.76 million goes to EMBION – a research infrastructure for cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) on biological materials.

Professor Gregers Rom Andersen (left), Cryo-EM Facility Manager Thomas Boesen and Professor Poul Nissen in front of the Titan-Krios flagship microscope at Aarhus University (photo: Lisbeth Heilesen).

EMBION is a Danish research collaboration led by Professor Poul Nissen from Aarhus University, with participation from the University of Copenhagen as well as the University of Southern Denmark and the Statens Serum Institut. Aalborg University and the Technical University of Denmark also support EMBION.

Last year, the cryo-EM technology was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry to three pioneers for their development of methods, which enables the determination of structures of large biological molecules such as proteins, RNA and DNA at atomic level. This reveals new insights into how life processes work and are disturbed in disease. At the same time, the technology paves the way for drug development and enzymes in production of, for example, bioethanol, food and green chemistry, as well as new protein-based materials.

Together with the University of Copenhagen, Aarhus University will establish facilities in Aarhus and Copenhagen centered around the Titan-Krios flagship microscope and a new microscope for general studies of projects from the Danish research landscape.

The aim of EMBION is to provide this technology to the Danish research community and along with the European XFEL in Hamburg, the MAX-IV sycnhrotron and the European Spallation Source in Lund, and the 950 MHz NMR facility at iNANO, cryoEM will ensure the continuation of the Danish researchers’ leading position in structural biology.

Professor Poul Nissen says:

-          It is very important for the entire Danish research community that we can build a strong infrastructure on cryo-EM. This method will be revolutionary for all life sciences by bridging the structure and function of biomolecules and the many biochemical signalling and synthesis pathways of cell biology. We have much to build on and much to look at - both in academic research and companies.

Read also:  “Electron Microscopy on the national roadmap”.

Three new research infrastructures receive a grant

In addition to the grant to EMBION, a new test center for electronics (X-Power) will receive DKK 31.15 million, while the Danish part of the world's largest research infrastructure CERN (CERN-UP) receives DKK 11.2 million for an upgrade.

-          If our aim is to be among the worldwide elite of research nations, Danish researchers increasingly need high-tech facilities. Therefore, it is important that we invest in the infrastructure that they need. All three new research infrastructures can help making our lives and everyday life easier, says Tommy Ahlers, Minister for Higher Education and Science.

X-Power, EMBION and CERN-UP are all financed by the fund for research infrastructure on the basis of the Danish Roadmap for Research Infrastructure 2015. The Roadmap presents the Ministry for Higher Education and Science’s plans for how the Danish research infrastructures will be strengthened until 2020. "Danish Roadmap for Research Infrastructure 2015" will strengthen Denmark's international competitiveness within research, education and innovation.

For further information, please contact

Professor Poul Nissen
DANDRITE/Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics
Aarhus University, Denmark
pn@mbg.au.dk – +45 2899 2295