Our laboratory is unique around the world in being able to combine sophisticated biochemistry, genetics, and molecular biology with the ability to directly visualize DNA, proteins, and DNA or RNA-protein complexes, as well as whole cells using high resolution electron microscopes. Most of the methods for preparing the samples are ones we developed and thus we have an expertise which few other groups possess. This has resulted in many research papers of great significance, including the first visualization of nucleosomes, the first visualization of bent DNA, and the discovery of telomere looping. We have a wealth of collaborations with laboratories world-wide which greatly enriches our research program and the training environment for laboratory members who frequently collaborate and publish with top groups elsewhere. I keep the lab relatively small (6 to 8 in addition to myself) so that I too can carry out experiments at the bench, which I have continued to do my whole career. All members of the laboratory, graduate students, fellows, and technicians are considered equals, and this year (2011) the whole group traveled to Alaska in the summer for a workshop on aging and DNA repair that we organized.
Electron microscopes: Our laboratory also serves as an EM core facility in the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at UNC. We have two 120 KV instruments, an FEI Tecnai12 and a Philips CM12. Both are fitted with state of the art Gatan real time and slow scan cameras. The CM12 has new cyrostages for cryoEM. In 2010 we were awarded an NIH grant for $300,000 to upgrade our cryoEM equipment and this allowed us to obtain an FEI Vitrobot, a robotic freezing instrument for cryoEM. We have three high vacuum systems including one for freeze-drying molecules and cells.