High Resolution Electron Microscopy Facility

The High Resolution Electron Microscopy Facility (HREMF) provides a resource to the scientific community at MD Anderson for high resolution imaging of cells, tissues, organs or polymers containing cancer agents. The facility is located at the Smith Research Building (South Campus) and houses a JEM1010 transmission electron microscope (TEM), a JSM 5900 scanning electron microscope (SEM) equipped with electron backscatter detector, a Technotrade coating system, a Leica Ultramicrotome, Leica Ultrastainer and other accessories needed to prepare samples for SEM and TEM. A technician with histological training is available to assist researchers in defining their specific needs related to SEM and TEM. Microscopes are equipped with digital cameras and are connected to the internet. The facility operates on a charge-back basis only for processing of samples and the number of microscope hours used to examine samples with technical assistance.

Getting Started

Investigators needing SEM and/or TEM may contact Dr. Robert Langley by phone at 713-792-9142, or by e-mail at rlangley@mdanderson.org, to discuss feasibility of study. The procedure is as follows:

  • A request form is sent to the investigator electronically, or it can be downloaded.

  • Dr. Langley, Mr. Kenneth Dunner, Jr., and the investigator discuss the logistics of sample preparation and detailed instructions (optional). Fixatives are prepared and picked up by the investigator just before samples are collected. Procurement of tissue samples from human or animal origin is the responsibility of the individual investigator. The investigators are required to fix all biological samples before they are brought to the facility.

  • The samples are processed and pre-screened for quality of the preparation. The investigator is then notified that the sample is ready to be examined. We urge that the investigator come and examine the samples with the assistance of Kenneth Dunner, Jr., at the microscope.

  • Upon completion of the job request, the investigator signs the form, which is then submitted for subsequent billing. The charge-back system operates on an authorized fund transfer from investigator accounts to the HREMF account. Turnaround time for SEM results is approximately two weeks. Turnaround time for TEM results is approximately three weeks. Peer-funded investigators have priority. Services for investigators with no peer-funded grants are performed as time permits and the service is charged to the respective department.


A detailed set of protocols is provided to the investigator regarding the preparation of samples for SEM and TEM. In the majority of cases the investigator fixes the sample with fixative prepared by HREMF staff and HREMF staff performs subsequent processing. Screening of samples with the assistance of technical support is recommended at all times. Background references on the particular investigation are usually requested by HREMF to ensure that the correct fixatives and specific information regarding the specimen is known before the analysis.

Core Grant Citation

We request that publications using the HREMF include an acknowledgment of the Cancer Center Core Grant CA16672. Two copies of the publication acknowledging the Core grant should also be submitted to the facility at 1515 Holcombe Boulevard, Unit 173, Houston, TX, 77030.