The National Resource for Automated Molecular Microscopy (NRAMM) is an NIGMS Biomedical Technology Research Resources (BTRR) based at the Simons Electron Microscopy Center, New York Structural Biology Center. Technology research and development projects address automation and high throughput methods for specimen handling, image acquisition, data processing and data information integration.

The National Resource for Automated Molecular Microscopy (NRAMM) was established in 2003 with the mission of developing, testing and applying technology aimed at automating the processes involved in solving macromolecular structures using cryo-electron microscopy (cryoEM). The overall mission of the NRAMM is to develop, test and apply technology aimed at automating and streamlining cryo-electron microscopy (cryoEM) for structural biology. Our goal from the outset was to provide a pipeline for molecular microscopy that puts it on a par with other structural techniques like X-ray crystallography, so that, once suitable samples are in hand, getting to a high resolution 3D map is a straightforward and rapid undertaking. This one time dream is now obtainable for well-behaved samples as a result of many innovations and improvements in hardware and software, including most recently the advent of a new generation of cameras that directly detect electrons and record high frame rate movies allowing for correction of sample movement during image exposure.

NRAMM funding was renewed in 2012 to continue and extend our mission of developing cryoEM as a mainstream and efficient methodology on a par with, and complementary to, X-ray crystallography and other equivalent hybrid structural methods. In addition, we see a role for structural EM as being uniquely capable of providing information about the dynamics of molecular machines. Technology Research and Development (TRD) efforts in the current cycle are focused in 3 areas: TRD#1: CryoEM Specimen Preparation Using Piezo-based Picoliter Dispensing; TRD#2: Optimizing Performance, Resolution, and Throughput of CryoTEM; TRD#3: Appion: An enabling tool for EM processing and analysis of complex systems.

The TRD activities at NRAMM are driven by close interactions and feedback from Driving Biological projects (DBPs) and further tested and validated by  Collaborative and Service Projects (CSPs). We welcome applications to use NRAMM resources  as a CSP project and interested users can apply here.  We also welcome the opportunity to find new DBPs and interested researchers are encouraged to contact us directly at: bnc@nysbc.org

Other important aspects of NRAMM’s mission are to Training and Dissemination to promote the broadest possible use of these technologies.  NRAMM organizes numerous small training workshops as well as a large international biennial workshops focused on discussion and exploration of the most challenging aspects of our technology.  Dissemination activities include distribution of  the Leginon and Appion software packages, and public data sets, as well as traditional means such as hosting seminars, giving talks and publishing papers.   NRAMM has been acknowledged in ~270 publications since its inception.