Nikolaus Grigorieff is a biophysicist who develops methods to visualize macromolecules using electron cryo-microscopy and single-particle analysis, including many software tools. Grigorieff was born in Frankfurt/Main, Germany and grew up in Berlin (West), attended the Technische Universität to study physics, and moved to Bristol, UK in 1989 to improve his English and specialize in electron microscopy of semiconductors. After finishing his Ph.D. in 1993, he fondly remembered his high school biology classes and decided to apply his skills in electron microscopy to proteins. While working in Cambridge, UK with Richard Henderson on 2D crystals of bacteriorhodopsin, he learned about membrane transport, as well as fine whiskies at Darwin College. In 1999, he began his independent career at Brandeis University, working on ion channels, amyloid, spliceosomes, ribosomes and viruses. He was appointed as an HHMI Investigator in 2000, and moved his lab to HHMI?s Janelia Research Campus in Virginia in 2013 to use the latest cryo-EM equipment he helped establish there. In 2020, Grigorieff returned to Massachusetts and joined long-term collaborators at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Research Interests

Nikolaus Grigorieff visualizes cellular macromolecular assemblies in atomic detail to better understand the mechanisms underlying their function. To do this, Grigorieff and his team develop methods in electron cryo-microscopy (cryo-EM) that use a 'single-particle' approach, eliminating the need for crystallization. These methods resulted in several software tools, such as Frealign, Unblur, CTFFIND and cisTEM, as well as algorithms to align cryo-EM movie frames and filter the frames according to the radiation damage suffered by the sample. Recently, Grigorieff's team and collaborators have begun developing a method to detect molecules and assemblies in situ ' inside cells ' for a more complete spatial understanding of their local distributions, and to preserve weak and transient interactions between them that would otherwise be missed. His goal is to map the location of molecules inside cells and derive a more quantitative understanding of cellular functions. Grigorieff makes the tools developed in his lab available to other scientists, including open-source software to process cryo-EM data.

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Primary Section

Section 29: Biophysics and Computational Biology

Secondary Section

Section 21: Biochemistry