The Swulius lab is interested in structural mechanisms underlying cell biology, with a specific focus on neuronal plasticity. We use cryogenic microscopy as a tool to examine cellular structures in their native state.

The electron microscope (EM) has been essential for studying the fine structure of cells, and with each technological advancement a clearer picture of cell structure is revealed. CryoEM provides direct imaging of frozen-hydrated cells, and uses no fixation, dehydration or staining, allowing unprecedented in vivo structural biology, as well as an opportunity to update our understanding of how cells are organized at the molecular scale.

One powerful technique for visualizing cells at this scale is Electron Cryotomography (ECT), which provides three-dimensional images of “living” cells at molecular resolution (~3 nm). Combined with cryo-fluorescence imaging to target molecules of interest as well as cryo-Focused Ion Beam (FIB) milling to reach compartments deep within cells, cryogenic microscopy is fast making ground in uncovering the next level of detail in structural cell biology.