Biological Electron Microscopy Facility

Using electron microscopes to explore the biological world.

3d reconstruction of a dendrite showing spines and their synapses (in red). This work was done as part of a project carried out for Sami El Boustani (University of Geneva), and published in Science in 2018.

The BioEM Facility is a laboratory specialising in the preparation and imaging of all types of biological samples using scanning and transmission electron microscopy. The laboratories are part of the School of Life Sciences, and located in the AI building. For any enquiries about sample preparation, imaging, and training please contact any of the BioEM staff.

Latest news

The true shape of dendritic spines – December 2020

Using cryo fixation, the BioEM facility shows how dendritic spines are altered by chemical fixation. The dendritic spine is the site where the majority of  excitatory connections are found in the adult brain. There size and shape are important determinants of their function.  A detailed morphological analysis now published in eLife shows few changes, however, cryo-fixed spines have significantly thinner necks.

TEM in Parkinson’s disease

The group of Hilal Lashuel publishes an extensive study in the journal PNAS in which the progression of Lewy body formation is tracked in cells. This includes transmission electron microscopy with immunocytochemistry. See the EPFL news here. The research article can be viewed here.

Block face scanning EM in Alzheimer’s Disease

A study lead by Gilles Bonvento (Paris) explores astrocytic metabolism and mechanistic link that connects defective glycolysis in astrocytes to impaired l-serine production and reduced neuronal function. Supplementation with L-serine in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s restores cognitive deficits. This study used the block-face scanning electron microscopy services offered by the BioEM Facility. The study is published in the journal Cell Metabolism, and can be viewed here.

Graham Knott, office AI0143
tel: +41 21 6931862