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Uncovering the fundamental shapes of life

Our group aims at finding more powerful ways of seeing the fundamental shapes of life. For this purpose, we develop novel approaches in high-resolution bioimaging. 

Proteins are essential components of the fundamental processes of life. They carry oxygen in our blood, generate the energy we need, allow us to see and think, and are irreplaceable catalysts. Understanding the function of a protein and the importance in biological processes requires knowledge on its three-dimensional structure.

Visualizing the shapes of life
Research within our group revolves around the molecular and atomic structures of proteins and large molecular complexes. We want to find new and more powerful ways of seeing these fundamental shapes of life. To solve the atomic structures of proteins we develop and combine a broad spectrum of state-of-the-art technologies in physics, biology and scientific computing.

Resolving the atomic structure of molecules
One of the main challenges in structural biology is that many proteins fail to produce 3D crystals. To meet this challenge we develop and apply novel approaches in sample preparation and crystallization, optimize data collection and work on new ways of analyzing the data. Using X-ray, electron microscopy, crystallography, Atomic Force Microscopy and spectroscopic techniques we try to determine the atomic structure of protein 3D nanocrystals.

Electron diffraction as a promising tool
Many of the important molecular structures of life resist all current methods of structure determination. Therefore our future goal is to build a new instrument that enables us to visualize the molecular and atomic shapes of biological important proteins by electron diffraction. We envisage that novel approaches in structure determination will shed light on the molecular processes in health and disease such as amyloid formation in Alzheimer’s Disease.