Helmholtz Zentrum München (HMGU)

As a leading center in health research Helmholtz Zentrum München (HMGU) aims to preserve and improve the health of individuals by developing innovative strategies for diagnosis, treatment and prevention. To achieve these goals one area of research is the development and application of innovative methods for biomedical research.


The Institute of Structural Biology at HMGU studies the spatial structures and molecular interactions of biological macromolecules, i.e. proteins, nucleic acids (RNAs and DNA) and their complexes. The detailed structural information forms a basis to understand molecular mechanisms of cellular processes and disease-linked pathways. Researchers in the institute employ integrated structural biology approaches to obtain a more complete description of the structure and dynamics of biological molecules in solution. Modern solution- and solid-state NMR- spectroscopy and X-ray crystallography are combined with complementary information from Small Angle X-ray and/or Neutron Scattering (SAXS/SANS), and biophysical techniques (i.e isothermal titration calorimetry, static and dynamic light scattering) to describe the structure-function relationships of biological macromolecules. Computational methods are used to integrate the different techniques to obtain a comprehensive description of the structure and dynamics of biological macromolecules.

In order to tackle challenging protein complexes and fibril structures, we develop and improve novel methods for solution- and solid-state NMR. Our studies focus on fundamental processes in the regulation of gene expression, cellular signal transduction and peroxisome biogenesis that are implicated in various diseases.


The structural data provide a basis for the rational drug design and the development of small molecule inhibitors as novel bioactive compounds. The results of our structural studies is used to rationally guide the development of novel lead molecules. State-of-the-art and novel experimental and computational methods are developed and applied to improve and enhance structure-based drug discovery. This area of research is the focus of the AEGIS project.