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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What if I am not sure whether I need electron microscopy to answer my scientific question?

    Please us to discuss how the EMCF may be able to help you.

  • How do I make an account with the EMCF?

    In your browser, navigate to the entry portal for EMCF on the PPMS system. Follow the instructions in the EMCF Quick Start Guide.

  • What is PPMS?

    PPMS is a core facility management software provided by StratacoreThe EMCF uses it for scheduling, billing and project management. Navigate to the EMCF entry portal.

  • How do I initiate a project with the EMCF?

    Once you have made a user account, you can log on to the PPMS system. From your home page, click the Request tab and fill out the EMCF Project Request form. PPMS will notify EMCF staff by email and you will be contacted by someone to discuss and schedule your project. Please review carefully the policies regarding EMCF usage.

  • How much does it cost?

    Fees for EMCF services and for microscope use are posted hereThe EMCF is an institutionally supported recharge facility. As such, we are required to recover a significant portion of our operating costs.The costs of doing EM include consumables and labor charges, as well as maintenance and service on our instruments. At current rates, the minimum charge for processing two pieces of tissue (one experiment with one control) from fixation, through processing, embedding, sectioning and staining is about $240. Users wishing to reduce costs may be trained to process their own samples and/or operate the electron microscope themselves.

  • How do I pay for using the EMCF?

    The EMCF bills monthly. For UT Southwestern investigators, a valid PeopleSoft Chart of Accounts # is required to access EMCF services through PPMS. Invoices are payable by electronic IDR. External users should provide detailed billing information in their account profiles.

  • What is the workflow for an EMCF project?
    1. Registered user logs on and makes project request through PPMS

    2. EMCF staff review project request and gather missing information

    3. EMCF staff accept the project and schedule sample submission with the user

    4. EMCF staff provides freshly prepared fixative to the user

    5. User fixes tissue and cuts it into pieces NO LARGER than 1 mm on a side

    6. User places cut up tissue into clearly marked vial identifying the sample

    7. A completed sample manifest must be received by email before samples are submitted

    8. EMCF staff assign unique EMCF sample numbers to each sample in the manifest

    9. User brings fixed samples to EMCF for processing

    10. EMCF will process, section and stain samples, communicating with user as necessary

    11. EMCF will notify user by email when sample processing is complete

  • How do I submit my samples to the EMCF?

    All samples submitted to the EMCF must be accompanied by an approved project request and an electronic version of a completed sample manifest. Once your project request has been approved by EMCF staff, you may contact the EMCF staff to schedule submission of your samples. Typically, samples should be submitted in fixative in well marked vials with labels that match the sample manifest.

    For fastest service: notify us at least one week before you intend to submit the samples. Plan to submit the samples on a Monday or Tuesday. Samples submitted Wednesday, Thursday or Friday will not be processed until the following week. Samples submitted at the last minute (i.e. without prior notification) may not be processed until the following week depending on how busy we are. For best results, view detailed instructions for submitting samples.

  • How long will it take for complete sample preparation?

    The turn around time for your samples will be determined by the number of samples and the workload of the facility, as well as any special requirements you have (such as precise sample orientation or non-standard protocols). Our average turn around time currently is four weeks. To minimize your turn around time, you should notify us at least one week before you submit your samples and the samples should be submitted on a Monday or Tuesday.

  • What if I need it right away?

    Under certain circumstances, we will accept rush orders at 2X the published rates. We reserve the right to refuse rush orders if we cannot meet your deadline.

  • How do I get trained to use a microscope?

    From your the Request tab on your PPMS home page, select EMCF Training Request. Fill out the form and click Submit. EMCF staff will contact you to arrange a time for training. A single training session costs $110 per person. 

  • How do I get trained to process my own samples?

    When you fill out your project request form, check the box indicating you want to be trained to process your own samples. User processing is $20 per sample (compared with $60 if we do it). EMCF staff will contact you to arrange a time for training. Training for TEM processing costs $65 per person.

  • I'm not a UTSW investigator, can I use the EMCF?

    Non-UT Southwestern investigators may use the EMCF. According to UT Southwestern policy on core facilities, users from other academic institutions outside the UT System, will be billed at 2X the in-house rates. Commercial users will be billed at 3X the in-house rates.