The Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main is currently in the process of completing its re-structuring of the life sciences departments. The Riedberg Campus currently houses the Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Biochemistry departments. In addition, it houses the MPIs for Biophysics and Brain Research as well as the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies (FIAS). By the end of 2011, the Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Sciences (BMLS) had been completed, which houses most groups of the Cluster of Excellence Macromolecular Complexes (CEF-MC).
The University of Frankfurt has and will continue to devote space, positions and financial resources to several core facilities of crucial importance for the life sciences community, among those are the Biomolecular Magnetic Resonance Center Frankfurt (BMRZ) and the Advanced Light Microscopy Center (FCAM) which is mainly located within the BMLS.
The FCEM (Frankfurt Center for Electron Microscopy of the Goethe University) was inaugurated in 2013 and is located within the BMLS. Affiliated are the resources of the Faculty of Biosciences, located in the neighboring building. Together, the FCEM comprises equipment for all applications used in modern electron microscopy for the life sciences: transmission electron microscopy (TEM) from classical thin-sectioning to structural work with molecular resolution, supplemented by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) methods of the highest standards as well as methods to combine advanced light microscopy information with ultrastructure.
The primary aim of the FCEM is to promote the application of electron microscopy in all research disciplines of the Goethe University. Past and current users of the Goethe University have been from the departments of Molecular Biology, Cellular Biology, Neuroscience, Medicine, Biochemistry, Pharmacy, and Physics. FCEM has been also utilized by external institutions such as the University of Zurich, Max-Planck-Institute for Biophysical Chemistry and others, as well as from non-academic users.
To mine the data from electron micrographs, well-trained experienced personnel is available. The FCEM has currently one dedicated scientist, and two dedicated technicians with the specialized technical know-how for sample preparation. The scientist is committed to providing teaching to all users on the electron microscopes. Elaborate initial training is provided from the scientist, as it is required to get new users familiar with the elaborate and delicate EM equipment. One of the FCEM technicians is mainly involved in sample preparation, e.g. chemical fixation, high-pressure freezing and freeze substitution, vitreous freezing (cryo), or negative stain. The other FCEM technician is primarily involved in ultramicrotomy and (FIB)-SEM preparation. This core-support team also does pilot studies for new projects coming into the facility and operates projects on full-service level on request. Next, to our sample preparation and data acquisition support, we provide knowledge and manpower support for the optimal data processing and visualization of electron microscopy and electron tomography (ET) data. This includes teaching and know-how transfer for home-developed, open-source, and commercial packages.
One of the primary goals of the FCEM is to implement necessary and upcoming EM techniques that will be initially used by the Goethe community and after successful establishment and optimization will be provided in a highly professional manner to the wider scientific community. Our intention is to be at the forefront of EM/ET developments and to share our facilities and our expertise with as many scientists of the Goethe University as well as external users as possible. We put significant effort towards a service oriented facility. For this, efficient communication of all parties involved is crucial. We foster this communication by individual discussions that define specific goals, milestones, and deliverables of each specific project, as well as by offering individual or group training as needed for both the preparation methods and the equipment. In future, also the organization of workshops addressing specific EM techniques is planned.