The main focus of the Department is experimental structure determination of membrane proteins by cryoEM or x-ray crystallography. Most of the proteins are expressed and purified in the Department, which is well-equipped for state-of-the-art molecular biology, cloning and membrane biochemistry (ultracentrifuges, column chromatography, optical spectroscopy) and for growing bacterial, yeast and mammalian cells in culture. The Department is a frequent user of the mass spectrometry platform operated by the Department of Molecular Membrane Biology. For membrane protein crystallization we have our own small constant-temperature room and a Mosquito crystallization robot. The Structural Biology Department is a regular user of the Max Planck Synchrotron beamlines at the Swiss Light Source in Villigen (CH) and the new PETRA-III beamline at DESY, Hamburg, for x-ray data collection.

We have built up one of the best cryoEM suites worldwide, which has three high-end 300 kV electron microscopes (JEOL 3200, FEI Polara and FEI Titan Krios), and all the necessary accessory equipment, including three 120 kV electron microscopes for screening and room temperature work. In addition, the Department has a 37.5% share of the 300 kV Titan Krios electron microscope at the Buchmann Institute on the Riedberg Campus. All high-end EMs are equipped with single-electron counting direct electron detectors for high-resolution imaging.

CryoEM is extremely computer-intensive. At present the Department has 900 CPUs and 20 GPUs at its disposal that are equipped with sufficient memory for image processing of large complexes. Thanks to a new 10 Gbit data line, we also have rapid access to the massive Max Planck Hydra cluster in Garching. During 2016, a 3.5 PB data storage system was installed at the institute, which should satisfy our needs for the next few years.


Max Planck Institute of Biophysics

Prof. Dr. Werner Kühlbrandt, Director
Department of Structural Biology
Secretary: Monika Hobrack

Phone: +49 (0) 69 6303-3001
Fax: +49 (0) 69 6303-3002
E-mail: monika.hobrack(at)