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, Ph. D., Technical University of Munich
1975-1986, Senior Research Scientist at Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health
1986-2008, Professor of Department of Biomedical Sciences of the University at Albany, State University of New York
2008-Present, Professor at Columbia University

Honors and Awards

2006, Fellow of American Academy of Arts and Sciences
2006, Member of National Academy of Sciences
2014, Franklin Institute Life Science Award
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.