Patrick Cramer is Director at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, Germany. He was born in Stuttgart, Germany, and studied chemistry at the Universities of Stuttgart, Heidelberg, Bristol and Cambridge from 1989 until 1995. Cramer carried out his PhD (Dr. rer. nat.) research at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Grenoble, France, and obtain his degree from the University of Heidelberg in 1998. From 1999 until 2001 Patrick Cramer worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of the later Nobel Prize laureate Roger D. Kornberg at Stanford University, USA. Patrick Cramer took up a tenure-track professorship in biochemistry at the University of Munich in 2001. There he was appointed full professor in 2004, and served as Director of the Gene Center Munich from 2004 to 2013. Since 2014 Patrick Cramer has been Director at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, Germany. Cramer served as Chair of EMBL Council from 2016 to 2019.

Research Interests

Gene transcription is the first step in the expression of our genetic information and is highly regulated during cell differentiation and organism development. We wish to understand how our genome is transcribed and regulated in health and disease. We wish to understand how genes are switched on, and how genes are misregulated in diseases such as cancer. To this end, we combine structural biology with functional genomics and bioinformatics in eukaryotic systems. We determine the three-dimensional structure of large transcription complexes by a combinantion of cryo-electron microscopy, X-ray crystallography, and crosslinking-mass spectrometry methods. The obtained structures are combined with functional data. This led to a first molecular movie of transcription and detailed insights into the mechanisms of transcription initiation from different promoters. We solved structures of the coactivator Mediator, and a chromatin-remodelling factor bound to the nucleosome. We will continue to develop methods and will study the structural basis of transcription regulation in chromatin. We also develop and use functional genomics methods and computational approaches to study genome regulation in living cells. Recent achievements include our development of transient transcriptome sequencing, or TT-seq, that can monitor dynamic changes in enhancer landscapes. We also developed a multi-omics approach to extract kinetic parameters of RNA polymerase initiation frequency, pause duration, and elongation velocity. In the future we will study the mechanisms of enhancer function, differentiation, and RNA metabolism, including transcription-coupled RNA processing. Recently we have also investigated coronavirus replication and its inhibition by antiviral agents, in order to help fight the ongoing pandemic.

Membership Type

International Member

Election Year


Primary Section

Section 21: Biochemistry