Resources at NCCAT

NCCAT provides several types of access with staff providing direct support, guidance and assistance. A cross-training program provides training across a wide variety of skill levels and career goals. In addition, our educational outreach programs provide opportunities to target specific areas of education and professional development.

The four major access types are:

Access categories

We accept applications under six access categories:

General User Proposal (GUP)

GUP1: Data Collection

Access for experienced users with pre-screened cryoEM samples in need of high-end instrument cryoEM time. [GUP1 Application Instructions]

GUP2: Sample preparation and screening 

Access for users in need of staff-assisted sample preparation and screening resources with the intent of a follow on high-end instrumentation session. [GUP2 Application Instructions]

Block Allocation Group (BAG): Data Collection

Block Allocation Group (BAG) Applications allow researchers greater flexibility in instrumentation access allocation and scheduling. At this time, BAG proposals are limited to an individual investigator or small groups of investigators working on a common biomedical research problem or other synergistic reasons. BAGs permit greater flexibility in the choice of driving biological projects and cryoEM ready samples within a given allocation period; and offer the benefit of access to more regular allocation. [BAG Application Instructions]

Rapid Access Proposal (RAP): Data Collection

A limited amount of rapid access time is available for quick and urgent access to NCCAT through expedited review. GUPs may also request to be considered in the rapid access program. Rapid access proposals are good for two (2) cycles and must be resubmitted. [RAP Application Instructions]

Training Proposal (TP)

TP1: Embedded Training

The TP1 program is embedded training is to train a scientist to become an independent cryoEM researcher. NCCAT staff will assist with access and training over a ~ 3 month intensive immersion program. [TP1 Application Instructions]

TP2: Facility management Training

Extended training to individuals who are responsible for managing, leading or training at their own facilities; these individuals will have considerably amplified impact when they return to their home institution. This program provides intensive training on site over several weeks to a month. [TP2 Application Instructions]

More questions? Read our access FAQ

How to Apply

Applications are submitted through our Proposal Central

NCCAT strives to provide open and fair access to the resources at the center. There is a quarterly call for applications, reviewed and ranked by an external User Review Committee (URC). To avoid potential conflicts of interest, users will have the option to exclude any member of the URC during the application process.

Applications are limited to one page of text and one page of supporting data and figures. NCCAT users (and their PI’s if applicable) are required to sign a written agreement that they will comply with all NIH data sharing, reporting and publication policies. The written agreement will also outline other requirements and policies for NCCAT access so as to manage expectations as transparently as possible.

User Review Committee (URC) Process

Proposals are scored in the following categories: (i) scientific impact; (ii) scientific feasibility; (iii) technical feasibility; (iv) NCCAT resources requested (including number of Krios sessions); (v) geographical demographics. The URC will score these aspects on a scale of 1 (excellent) – 5 (poor) with the option to provide additional comments. If there is not enough information to base a review, the proposal will receive a score of NR (no review). For more details, please see our Proposal Scoring FAQ

Proposals are peer reviewed and scored by the URC and then reviewed by a smaller and longer serving User Access Committee (UAC), responsible for assimilating the results of the URC reviews, resolving conflicting reviews and, in consultation with NIH and NCCAT management, prioritizing access. Scored proposals will considered for assignment of time by the Time Allocation Committee (TAC). If time is not awarded in the current cycle, the proposal will be forwarded to the next cycle with 0.2 adjustment in the score (lowering the number). This adjustment may be done for up to two (2) cycles for a maximum adjustment of 0.4. If a proposal has not been scored or has not been awarded time in 3 cycles, then a new GUP should be submitted.

Assignment of time

Time slots will be allocated on the basis of scores, feasibility and resources available by the Time Allocation Committee (TAC) comprised of the NCCAT management and staff. A member from the TAC will contact the primary user on the proposal to schedule access to NCCAT resources. This communication may include (but is not limited to) an email, and a phone/video conference to ensure the available resources at the center may be best matched to the proposal.

Access to proposal information

Proposals may be edited by the primary user associated with the proposal. Information contained in the proposal will be visible to NCCAT management, certain operational staff members for assistance with the assigned instrument time, and the reviewers selected to evaluate the proposal.

Deadlines and review of proposals

Proposals are accepted continuously through our online project submission system. Proposals are reviewed quarterly ahead of each cycle by the URC. Several reviewers will be averaged for a proposal score. If 1 week elapses after the review process has begun and the proposal has not been reviewed, or there is disparity between the reviews, the UAC may request additional reviewers. If a proposal is reviewed and not scored it will not be considered by the TAC for scheduling. The user may resubmit the proposal. If a user would like to challenge a score they may contact NCCAT to bring the case to the attention of the UAC for resolution.

More questions? Read our proposal scoring FAQ