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: Rntgen Prize in Biosciences, University of Wrzburg, Germany.

1982-1983: NATO Postdoctoral Fellowship.

1976-1982: Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes Fellowship.

1975: National Mathematics Competition Prize, Germany.



2016: Francis O Schmitt Lecture, MIT Department of Biology.

2014: Bruker Lecture, IYCr2014 Innsbruck Symposium, Innsbruck.

2014: Honorary Professor, Xian Yiaotong University, Xian.

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.



Neurotransmission, vesicle trafficking and membrane fusion.

Structure determination by X-ray crystallography and electron cryo-microscopy.

Computer simulation of macromolecules.



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, 591607 (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.Burr, S.Vivona, D.J.Cipriano, M.Sharma, M.Kyoung, T.C.Sdhof, A.T.Brunger. Native _-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).


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


K.Weninger, M.E.Bowen, U.B.Choi, S.Chu, and A.T.Brunger, Accessory proteins stabilize the acceptor complex for synaptobrevin, the 1:1 syntaxin/SNAP-25 complex. Structure 16, 308-320 (2008).


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


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).