cryoEDU: An online curriculum and software platform for hands-on learning in single-particle cryo-EM and cryo-ET


In brief:

There are unmet needs in our growing community:

  • Curriculum and workshops that teach data processing pipelines for cryoEM/ET
  • Standardized and accessible ways to process cryoEM/ET data, and
  • Insider perspective on particular cryoEM/ET data set analysis


So, our cryoEDU platform will provide: 

  • Self-paced online modular curricula,
  • Hands-on data analysis in a cloud desktop environment, and 
  • Community engagement to facilitate information exchange related to cryoEM/ET data analysis. 



Single-particle cryogenic electron microscopy (cryoEM) is a technique that’s rising in popularity and has become a mainstream structural biology technique. Due to the reduced burden of sample preparation, the capacity to solve tricky protein structures, like membrane protein or heterogeneous flexible macromolecular complexes, becomes possible when rapidly plunging samples preserves their native environment at cryogenic temperatures. As cryoEM expands, the neighboring field of cryogenic electron tomography (cryoET) continues to achieve milestones, paving it’s own way into becoming a core technology for structural and cell biologists for in vitro and in vivo characterizations. 


Despite the excitement surrounding these techniques, especially after winning the Nobel Prize in 2017, the barrier to enter cryoEM/ET is steep, requiring users to understand concepts that range from biochemistry to physics of electron microscopes to computational image alignment algorithms. Many resources, like CryoEM101 and EM-learning, provide great introduction to concepts and theories behind cryoEM/ET, but oftentimes data processing information is transferred locally, passed down internally within an established lab. As such, there can be a significant gap in training materials and resources that help users understand, analyze, interpret, and validate cryoEM data and structure determination.


So if you’ve found yourself wondering why particular data processing decisions were made and how to discern that for your unique dataset, you’ve come to the right place! CryoEDU will train users on cryoEM/ET data interpretation and analysis using practical examples, including known pitfalls, to provide an interactive data processing experience. Using an integrated online platform, you can access online self-paced materials, interactive data analysis, and job submission through a cloud computing environment alongside engagement with the cryoEM community. Our chapters and modules will provide the fundamentals of data processing, and access to a cloud-based RELION GUI will give users hands-on experience with real data. In a “choose your own adventure” style, you will go through data sets and figure out best practices in data processing. In addition, we will provide you with expert testimonials and connect you with the growing cryoEM/ET community.