West/Midwest Consortium

The goal of the West/Midwest Consortium for High-Resolution Cryo Electron Microscopy (cryoEM) is to offer our consortium users free access to an existing core facility at UCLA

Becoming a new West/Midwest Consortium User

An overview of the data collection process for new users is listed below:

  1. Apply for Prior Approval to become a new member
  2. Create CLMS reservation account
  3. Submit EICN user application paperwork
  4. Submit project description for review
  5. Recieve in-person instrument training at first data collection session
  6. Collect data 
  7. Organize data transfer
  8. Apply for travel reimbursement

The following section mainly covers Items A through C: Prior Approval, WMC voucher, CLMS reservation account creation, and EICN user application submission. Item D project descriptions and Item E in-person instrument training are briefly covered here but are expanded upon in later sections.

A. Prior Approval to become a new member

New cryo-EM-centric labs may request to join the West/Midwest Consortium by contacting either NIH program director Paula Flicker (flickerp@nigms.nih.gov) or the West/Midwest Consortium director Hong Zhou (hongzhou@ucla.edu). Prospective users need to undergo a prior approval process before they may become a WMC member.

A prior approval application requires 4 items from each user:

  1. Statement of intent for applying to become a new member of the WMC
  2. Project description, including cryoEM images obtained locally and 2D class averages of those images
  3. NIH-style biosketch
  4. NIH-style other support pages

The prior approval review process is as follows: 

  1. WMC User Coordinator compiles the 4 items listed above into a Prior Approval Application
  2. Application is sent to all WMC Site PIs for review and signed approval
  3. Application along with Site PI signatures is sent to NIH for review
  4. If approved, the applicant will become a new WMC user

There are two member types: Site PI and Member PI. Users may apply to become the Site PI of their home institution if their institution is new to the consortium. Users may apply to become a Member PI if their home institution is already a part of the consortium. For a list of institutions that are a part of the WMC, please see the Members page.

Each user must have their prior approval application approved in order to make reservations on the instrument. Please note that Site PIs should only propose projects that they themselves are a part of. If another PI from that Site PI’s home institution would like to utilize the instrument, they need to apply for prior approval to become a Member PI. 

About WMC Voucher:

Upon membership approval, each WMC-associated laboratory will be awarded a voucher for $13,000/year to be used for instrument access at EICN. Vouchers are laboratory-specific and are non-transferable to other laboratories. WMC vouchers are renewed on August 1 on an annual basis. Leftover funds from the previous year’s voucher are forfeited and are not carried over into the next year. 

 Each user lab may apply for a voucher fund increase by appealing to the WMC Supervisory Committee. Users may only appeal once their initial $13,000 voucher amount is used up. Upon approval, the initial $13,000 voucher amount may be increased by an additional $2,000 for a total voucher amount of $15,000. Appeals should include a scientific justification for the request for additional funding, and should include data that was collected through sessions funded by the initial $13,000 voucher amount. 

Rates for instrument access and staff assistance can be found here. At the end of every month, the UCLA Finance Office will deduct any accumulated charges from the voucher account.

B. CLMS Reservation Account Creation

The Core Lab Management System site  is used for scheduling reservations on instruments available at the EICN facility, including the Titan Krios. Instructions on how to make a CLMS account can be found here.


Users with a CLMS account can make their own reservations, or may contact the WMC user coordinator for help with making their reservation. Users must comply with general CNSI and internal EICN policies and be aware of charges related to using EICN. Per EICN policy, users must have a reservation to use the instrument. More details about EICN instrument usage policy can be found here (link). 

C. EICN User Application Submission:

All users of EICN’s facilities must submit an EICN User Application. The EICN User Application can be found here. New users should submit their completed application to the WMC User Coordinator via email.

D. Project Description

Before users can schedule their first data collection session, users must submit a project description to the WMC User Coordinator, and the project description must be approved by the WMC Supervisory Committee. Detailed information on project descriptions can be found here.

E. Instrument Training

At a users’ first data collection session, users will travel to EICN at UCLA in-person to be trained on the instrument. Travel costs from this first data collection session are eligible for reimbursement. EICN permits users to send more than one lab personnel to EICN facilities to be trained. However, per EICN policy, only one person will be eligible for reimbursement. Please see the Travel Reimbursement page for detailed information on reimbursement eligibility.

On the morning of the first day of data collection, users will be asked to meet the WMC User Coordinator in the lobby of the California Nanosystems Institute (CNSI) building on UCLA campus at 10:00AM. The WMC User Coordinator will provide a short tour of the EICN labs and will guide the user to the Titan Krios room, where EICN staff will begin training the user.