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


1987-1991 Assistant Professor, Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry, Yale Univ.
1987-1992 Assistant Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
1991-1993 Associate Professor, Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry, Yale Univ.
1992-1995 Associate Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
1993-2000 Professor, Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry, Yale Univ.
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.


1975 National Mathematics Competition Prize, Germany
1976-1982 Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes Fellowship
1982-1983 NATO Postdoctoral Fellowship
1995 Röntgen Prize in Biosciences, University of Würzburg, Germany
2003 Gregori Aminoff Prize, The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
2004 Nobel Symposium Speaker, Stockholm, Sweden
2005 Elected Member, National Academy of Science
2011-2021 Merit Award, NIMH
2011 DeLano Award, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
2014 Carl Hermann Medal of the German Crystallographic Society (DGK)
2012 HHMI Collaborative Innovation Award
2014 Bernard Katz Award, Exocytosis & Endocytosis Group, Biophysical Society
2016 Trueblood Award, American Crystallographic Association
2021 Elected Member, American Academy of Arts & Sciences


2009 Paul Sigler Lecture, Yale University
2013 Sir John Kendrew Lecture, Weizmann Institute
2014 Lecture and Honorary Professor, Xi’an Yiaotong University, Xi’an
2014 Bruker Lecture, IYCr2014 Innsbruck Symposium, Innsbruck
2016 Francis O Schmitt Lecture, MIT Department of Biology
2018 BSA Distinguished Lecture, Brookhaven National Laboratory
2018 Keynote lecture and Honorary Professor, Southwest Medical University, Luzhou
2018 Balzan Lecture, Göttingen, Germany
2018 Robert Whitney Newcomb Memorial Lecture, NIH


2009-2015 Member of the Editorial Board for Biophysical Journal
2011-present Associate Editor 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 7, 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).