Structural biology is essential for atomic-level understanding of structure-function relationships in living systems and increasingly key to providing knowledge structure-based drug discovery. While traditionally the method of choice has been X-ray crystallography, in the past seven years, dramatic improvements of resolution using cryo electron microscopy (cryo-EM) have resulted in cryo-EM named 2015 Nature Method of the Year and the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. This in turn has had a major impact on the number of cryo-EM installations in Europe, publicly deposited structures, publications and related knowledge, teaching and dissemination.

Portugal was one of the few European countries without this technology. That is now changing with the inclusion of cryo-EM in the Portuguese Roadmap of Research Infrastructures 2020, resulting in major funding (€2.5M) for the first autoloader cryo electron microscope installed in Portugal in 2022, coordinated by the CryoEM-PT consortium in which UCIBIO-FCT-NOVA is a node. This presents an excellent opportunity for establishing cryo-EM research and training in Portugal, and specifically at FCT-NOVA, which has expertise using X-ray crystallography and NMR, while expertise in cryo-EM is lacking, resulting in unmet needs.

The overall objective of CryoEM@NOVA is to establish a sustainable cryo-EM hub for research and training at FCT-NOVA. Under the direction of the ERA Chair holder this objective is clearly achievable as Prof. Luecke has experience in setting up cryo-EM infrastructure leading to high-resolution structures of proteins with medically-relevant bound inhibitors, generating high-impact publications and attracting funding and collaborations.

The operation of advanced electron microscopes and associated vitrification robots coupled with storage- & compute-intensive data analysis requires scientists with in-depth knowledge & training. Such talent will have acquired this expertise elsewhere and will need to be recruited to Portugal.

 About CryoEM@NOVA





Call for proposal


 Funding Scheme

HORIZON-AG - HORIZON Action Grant Budget-Based