Prof. Dr. Henning Stahlberg

University of Basel
at the Department for Biosystems Science and Engineering (D-BSSE)
Mattenstrasse 26
CH - 4058 Basel
WRO-1058, Room P 16 Phone: +41 61 387 32 62
Curriculum Vitae


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Resistant cancer cells: 3D structure of a drug transporter decoded

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Center for Cellular Imaging and NanoAnalytics (C-CINA)

The C-CINA technology platform combines a wide range of microscopy equipment, methods and software tools applicable to investigate biological specimens in three dimensions.

C-CINA: Cryo-EM of biological molecules can reach atomic resolution. Here, details from the type-6-secretion system show alpha-helical structures.

C-CINA is equipped with state-of-the-art light and electron microscopes, and is geared to the study of biological samples ‘across the dimensions’. It houses the Stahlberg group, the Biozentrum branch of the Abrahams group, and the BioEM Lab service facility. Details of the equipment available and the research ongoing at C-CINA can be found at

Combined use of different microscopes

The microscopes available function at different magnifications, ranging from hundreds of micrometers to less than a fraction of a nanometer. The key element of C-CINA's equipment is the high-resolution electron microscope called "Titan". This machine is 4.5 meters high and is designed for computerized remote control. The wide range of additional equipment means that many different methods can be combined to prepare and to examine biological specimens. 

‘Across the dimensions’

The different types of light and electron microscope can be used to produce three-dimensional images of proteins at various magnifications and from various aspects. For example, tissue regions can be selected by light microscopy, the rough three-dimensional structure of the excised regions determined by serial block-face scanning electron microscopy, and the structure of individual cells from interesting areas studied by high-resolution electron tomography using a transmission electron microscope. Finally, the structure of individual proteins in the cells can be reconstructed by sub-volume averaging. In addition, high-resolution cryo electron microscopy can be used to obtain the three-dimensional structure of purified protein complexes at atomic resolution.

Computer image processing provides insight into 3D

Two-dimensional images from the various microscopes are collated into three-dimensional data by computer image processing. Just like Google Maps, the computer allows the combination of different magnifications. 

Software and methods

Software and methods developed by the groups housed at C-CINA are implemented in the technology, ensuring that this remains state-of-the-art.