Within the frame of joint development of bilateral projects between Sweden and South Korea, SciLifeLab scientists from Stockholm University Alexey Amunts’, Erik Lindahl’s labs and cryo-EM facility trained over 200 students and postdocs in four cities in South Korea. The training workshops included 40 hours of lectures and practical work in Seoul National University, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Daegu Institute for Plant Ageing and Pohang University of Science and Technology. The project, developed and delivered as a cooperation between SciLifeLab, Stockholm University and Korean Cryo-EM Association, aimed to expand the expertise and practical problem-solving skills of researchers, through a programme of lectures and activity based sessions. It has provided an insight into all the aspects of the technique from sample preparation to atomic model refinement and presentation of the data for publication.


From Stockholm University side, 13 scientists participated in the lectures and practical workshops, providing guidance for specific problem-solving. With this support, Korean colleagues have improved their practical skills and approach how to design and conduct cryo-EM experiments. Soung-Hun Roh and Jie-Oh Lee, who are responsible for setting up cryo-EM in Seoul National University and Pohang University of Science and Technology, respectively, said, “We truly appreciate the invaluable time of researchers from SciLifeLab and Stockholm University spent to help the cryo-EM community in South Korea. It will be essential for successful launching of the cryo-EM research here, and we hope it is the beginning of a long-term collaboration between our institutes.” 


Victor Tobiasson, PhD student in the Stockholm University Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, who helped develop the project and together with a postdoc Yuzuru Itoh delivered a practical session on image processing in Pohang, reflected, “In all our courses there was a huge interest in cryo-EM not only by students, but also many PIs, who joined in order to learn how to apply the technique to their research. We provided the theoretical background as well as specific problem-solving training, and hope the host institutes will become hotspots for cryo-EM research already in the near future.”


The cryo-EM research training by Stockholm University is widely regarded as an international exemplar of excellence at SciLifeLab. In addition to the series of workshops, a few researchers and visiting professors from abroad have been hosted in the recent years at SciLifeLab for periods of up to three month for project-based learning. Some of those projects have already resulted in collaborative publications from the data obtained and analyzed at SciLifeLab. The training hub has also developed in close collaboration with partners from the healthcare industry. It further provides opportunities for guest scientists to develop greater understanding of practical skills at SciLifeLab and apply it to their research upon return to the home laboratory, while benefiting from the network.


One of the visiting postdocs and a senior researcher came from the lab of the Nobel Laureate Ada Yonath from the Weizmann Institute. Prof Yonath summarized the productive training period at SciLifeLab, “I was greatly impressed by the members of Amunts’ lab commitment to guide my researchers through the difficulties and teach them to overcome technical barriers. I am very happy that we had a chance to take advantage of this unique opportunity to collaborate with SciLifeLab and Stockholm University. The high quality of the training, while maintaining a fantastic atmosphere in the lab, provided our researchers with outstanding experience.”


Further references:

Cryo-EM symposium in Seoul

Cryo-EM workshop in Daejun


Collaborative publications:

Paper with AstraZeneca in Science Advances

Paper with Ada Yonath in Nature Communication

Paper with Kayarat Sai in Nature Communication