Curriculum Vitae

Axel Thomas Brunger


Professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology,

Neurology and Neurological Sciences,

Structural Biology (by Courtesy), and Photon Science

Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute



J. H. Clark Center, Room E300-C, 318 Campus Drive, Stanford, CA 94305-5432

email:, web :

phone: 650-736-1031


BORN: November 25, 1956, Leipzig, Germany





1977 Vordiplom in Physics and Mathematics, Univ. of Hamburg.

1980 Diplom in Physics, Univ. of Hamburg.

1982 Ph.D. in Biophysics, Tech. Univ. of Munich, Germany.

1980 Graduate Student, MPI for Biophysical Chemistry, with Klaus Schulten.

1980-1982 Graduate Student, Tech. Univ. of Munich, with Klaus Schulten.

1982-1983 Postdoc. Fellow, Chemistry Dept., Harvard Univ., with Martin Karplus.

1984 Postdoc. Fellow, MPI for Biochemistry, with Dieter Oesterhelt, Robert Huber.

1985-1987 Research Assoc., Chemistry Dept., Harvard Univ., with Martin Karplus.



1995-present Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

2000-present Professor, Molecular and Cellular Physiology, Stanford Univ.

2013-2017 Chair, Dept. of Molecular and Cellular Physiology, Stanford Univ.

1993-2000 Professor, Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry, Yale Univ.

1992-1995 Associate Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

1991-1993 Associate Professor, Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry, Yale Univ.

1987-1992 Assistant Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

1987-1991 Assistant Professor, Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry, Yale Univ.



2016 Trueblood Award, American Crystallographic Association.

2014 Bernard Katz Award, Exocytosis & Endocytosis Group, Biophysical Society.

2014 Carl Hermann Medal of the German Crystallographic Society (DGK).

2011 DeLano Award, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

2012 HHMI Collaborative Innovation Award.

2011-2021 Merit Award, NIMH.

2005 Member, National Academy of Sciences.

2004 Nobel Symposium Speaker, Stockholm, Sweden.

2003 Gregori Aminoff Prize, The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

1995 Röntgen Prize in Biosciences, University of Würzburg, Germany.

1982-1983 NATO Postdoctoral Fellowship.

1976-1982 Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes Fellowship.

1975 National Mathematics Competition Prize, Germany.



     2018 Robert Whitney Newcomb Memorial Lecture, NIH.

     2018 Balzan Lecture, Göttingen, Germany.

     2018 BSA Distinguished Lecture, Brookhaven National Laboratory.

2016 Francis O Schmitt Lecture, MIT Department of Biology.

2014 Bruker Lecture, IYCr2014 Innsbruck Symposium, Innsbruck.

2014 Honorary Professor, Xi’an Yiaotong University, Xi’an.

2013 Sir John Kendrew Lecture, Weizmann Institute.

2009 Paul Sigler Lecture, Yale University.



2009-2015 Member of the Editorial Board for Biophysical Journal.

2011-present Member of the Editorial Board for Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA.

2012-present Member of the Board of Reviewing Editors for eLife.



Molecular mechanisms of neurotransmission and membrane fusion.

Computational methods for structural biology.



K.I. White, M. Zhao, U.B. Choi, R.A. Pfuetzner, L, A.T. Brunger. Structural principles of SNARE complex recognition by the AAA+ protein NSF. eLife, e38888, 10.7554/eLife.38888 (2018).

Q.Zhou, P.Zhou, A.L.Wang, D.Wu, M.Zhao, T.C.Sudhof, A.T.Brunger. The primed SNARE-complexin-synaptotagmin complex for neuronal exocytosis. Nature 548, 420-425 (2017).


Y.Lai, U.B.Choi, J.Leitz, H.J.Rhee, C.Lee, B.Altas, M.Zhao, R.A.Pfuetzner, A.L.Wang, N.Brose, J.Rhee, A.T.Brunger.Molecular mechanisms of synaptic vesicle priming by Munc13 and Munc18. Neuron 95, 591-607 (2017).


Q.Zhou, Y.Lai, T.Bacaj, M.Zhao, A.Y.Lyubimov, M.Uervirojnangkoorn, O.B.Zeldin, A.S.Brewster, N.K.Sauter, A.E.Cohen, S.M.Soltis, R.Alonso-Mori, M.Chollet, H.T.Lemke, R.A.Pfuetzner, U.B.Choi, W.I.Weis, J.Diao, T.C.Sudhof, A.T.Brunger, Architecture of the synaptotagmin-SNARE machinery for neuronal exocytosis. Nature 525, 62-67 (2015).


M.Zhao, S.Wu, Q.Zhou, S.Vivona, D.J.Cipriano, Y.Cheng, A.T.Brunger. Mechanistic insights into the recycling machine of the SNARE complex. Nature 518, 61-67 (2015).


Y.Lai, J.Diao, D.J.Cipriano, Y.Zhang, R.A.Pfuetzner, M.S.Padolina, A.T.Brunger. Complexin inhibits spontaneous release and synchronizes Ca2+-triggered synaptic vesicle fusion by distinct mechanisms. eLife 3, e03756 (2014).


J.Diao, J.Burre, S.Vivona, D.J.Cipriano, M.Sharma, M.Kyoung, T.C.Sudhof, A.T.Brunger. Native alpha-synuclein induces clustering of synaptic-vesicle mimics via binding to phospholipids and synaptobrevin-2/VAMP2. eLife 2, e00592 (2013).


J.Diao, P.Grob, D.J.Cipriano, M.Kyoung, Y.Zhang, S.Shah, A.Nguyen, M.Padolina, A.Srivastava, M.Vrljic, A.Shah, E.Nogales, S.Chu, A.T.Brunger. Synaptic proteins promote calcium-triggered fusion from point contract to full fusion. eLife 1, e00109 (2012).


M. Kyoung, A. Srivastava, Y. Zhang, J. Diao, M. Vrljic, P. Grob, E. Nogales, S. Chu, A.T. Brunger. In vitro system capable of differentiating fast calcium-triggered content mixing from lipid exchange for mechanistic studies of neurotransmitter release. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 108, E304-E313 (2011).


G.F.Schroeder, M.Levitt, A.T.Brunger, Super-resolution biomolecular crystallography with low-resolution data. Nature 464, 1218-1222 (2010).


M.A.Breidenbach, A.T.Brunger, Substrate recognition strategy for botulinum neurotoxin serotype A, Nature 432 925-929 (2004).


K. Weninger, M.E. Bowen, S. Chu, A.T. Brunger. Single molecule studies of SNARE complex assembly reveal parallel and anti-parallel configurations. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 100, 14800-14805 (2003).


B. DeLaBarre and A.T. Brunger, Complete Structure of p97/Valosin-Containing Protein Reveals Communication Between Nucleotide Domains, Nature Structural Biology 10, 856-863 (2003).


R.B.Sutton, D.Fasshauer, R.Jahn, A.T.Brunger. Crystal structure of a SNARE complex involved in synaptic exocytosis at 2.4 A resolution. Nature 395, 347-353 (1998).


A.T.Brunger, P. D.Adams, G. M.Clore, W.L.DeLano, P.Gros, R.W.Grosse-Kunstleve, J.-S.Jiang, J.Kuszewski, M.Nilges, N.S.Pannu, R.J.Read, L.M.Rice, T.Simonson, G.L.Warren, Crystallography & NMR system (CNS): A new software system for macromolecular structure determination, Acta Cryst. D 54, 905-921 (1998).


F. T. Burling, W. I. Weis, K. M. Flaherty, and A. T. Brunger, Direct observation of protein solvation and discrete disorder with experimental crystallographic phases, Science 271, 72-77 (1996).

A.T.Brunger, The free R value: a novel statistical quantity for assessing the accuracy of crystal structures, Nature 355, 472-474 (1992).


A.T.Brunger, J.Kuriyan, M.Karplus, Crystallographic R factor refinement by molecular dynamics, Science 235, 458-460 (1987).