Integrated Molecular Structure Education and Research Center (IMSERC)

From top right counterclockwise are labs for Mass Spectrometry (MS), Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (NMR), X-ray Crystallography (XRD), and undergraduate teaching.

The Integrated Molecular Structure Education and Research Center (IMSERC) began its existence as the Analytical Services Laboratory (ASL) at Northwestern University under the direction of Prof. Claude Luchesi in 1968 as one of the first shared analytical instrumentation labs at a US academic institution. It was renamed to IMSERC in 2008 after adding significant new capabilities. With the state-of-the-art instrumentations, IMSERC provides rapid access to mass spectrometry, NMR spectroscopy, X-Ray Crystallography and many other commonly used analytical techniques to students and research groups at Northwestern University and the greater Chicago Area. IMSERC is a proud member of the NSF funded Soft and Hybrid Nanotechnology Experimental Resource (SHyNE).

IMSERC’s mission is to educate Northwestern students to be scientific leaders of 21st century and support world-class research. All undergraduates at NU have full access to the cutting-edge instruments at IMSERC during their education. There are over $30 million research funding annually counting on IMSERC to meet its analytical service needs. These researches include structural/molecular/cellular biology, drug discovery, chemical biology, translational medical research, materials, catalysis, nanotechnology, and energy storage/conversion. As a “one stop shop” for molecular structure characterization, all instrumentation and staff scientist offices are located in a single location.

IMSERC currently has eight dedicated, full-time staff with combined experience of over 160 years in their respective fields. The staff are here to assist researchers in all aspects of experimental design, data collection, interpretation, analysis, helping prepare research proposals and publications. The staff trains undergraduate and graduate students, and post-doctoral, researchers to have open access to all instruments. On average, 500 training sessions are conducted each year. Approximately 70,000 experiments are performed in IMSERC. IMSERC maintains 10 mass spectrometers, 8 NMR spectrometers, 4 X-Ray diffractometers and 10 other small instruments. Most users at NU run their experiments themselves after a formal training by IMSERC staff. In addition, IMSERC staff provides analytical service to both internal and external users on a fee for service basis.