Joachim Frank

Joachim Frank

2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Joachim Frank is a German-born American biophysicist at Columbia University, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2017 for developing cryo-electron microscopy for the high-resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution.

Education and Work Experience

  • 1970, Dr. rer. nat. (equ. to Ph. D.), Technical University of Munich.
  • 1975-1998, Senior Research Scientist, Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health.
  • 1997-Present, Research Professor, New York University, Department of Cell Biology.
  • 2008-Present, Professor, Columbia University
Honors and Awards

    • 2006, Fellow of American Academy of Arts and Sciences
    • 2006, Member of National Academy of Sciences, the United States
    • 2014, Franklin Institute Life Science Award, Philadelphia, PA
    • 2017, Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences
    • 2017, Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Major Academic Achievements

The primary tool for Frank group’s studies is visualization by cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) combined with single-particle reconstruction. Since samples such as proteins have many different orientations on a cryo-electron microscope grid, it is impossible to determine high resolution structures of protein like X-ray crystal diffraction technology. In order to solve this problem, Professor Frank developed the image analysis technology of single-particle reconstruction. In addition, Professor Frank and his group developed a software called SPIDER (System for Processing Image Data from Electron microscopy and Related fields), which is widely used in the field of protein structure determination with cryo-electron microscopy. Based on the above-described methods of cryo-EM, he and his group made important contributions to structural and functional studies of ribosome in bacteria and eukaryotes.