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ArDean Leith, Ph.D.
Dr. Leith directs a team of software developers working on software for the analysis and visualization of advanced electron microscopy imaging. The current main software is distributed as the SPIDER system. SPIDER, the System for Processing Image Data in Electron microscopy and Related fields was one of the earliest image processing packages for use with three-dimensional electron microscopy. It supports single particle reconstruction, sub-tomogram averaging, multivariate statistical analysis, as well as general electron microscopy image processing. It was designed in 1978 by Dr. Joachim Frank at the Wadsworth Center, and has been continually improved and updated since then. SPIDER is in use at more than 200 laboratories worldwide and has been cited in more than 1200 publications. In its most common current usage, SPIDER allows a researcher to create a three-dimensional reconstruction of a sub-cellular particle or large molecule from a collection of electron micrographs of the object taken from different directions. Using cryo-electron microscopy these methods, first developed by Dr. Frank, have allowed researchers to determine the 3D structures of several macromolecular complexes at near-atomic resolution. These methods also provide a way of studying the structure of such complexes in a more natural environment than is possible using X-ray crystallography and for studying conformational changes of molecular machines. Dr. Leith's team develops, maintains, and distributes software written in Fortran, C++, Python, and Java. The team also compiles and maintains thousands of pages of documentation on the software and on methodologies for three-dimensional microscopy.