EMBL Hamburg

Research in structural biology benefits from the powerful acceletator facilities on Hamburg's DESY campus

At EMBL Hamburg, scientists unveil the structure of proteins that impact human health. Researchers in the unit use the state-of-the-art infrastructure for integrative structural biology available on the DESY campus. They investigate how molecules behave, and use the insights gained to develop new therapies.

Activities at EMBL Hamburg focus on state-of-the-art structural biology methods using synchrotron radiation. The unit is situated on campus of the German Synchrotron Research Centre (DESY), which hosts leading facilities for synchrotron radiation (PETRA-III) and free electron lasers (FLASH and XFEL, under construction).

Facilities and services

EMBL operates a new integrated facility EMBL@PETRA III for applications in structural biology at the PETRA III ring. It comprises three state-of-the-art beamlines: two for macromolecular X-ray crystallography (MX) and one for small angle X-ray scattering of biological samples. These beamlines are complemented by facilities for sample preparation and characterisation and data evaluation. The High-Throughput Crystallisation facility, with a capacity for 10,000 trays, was opened to the research community in 2006. The facilities are available to the research community based on scientific criteria.

Research at EMBL Hamburg

Research is tightly associated with the available synchrotron experiment stations for applications in life sciences. Several projects aim to develop novel technologies to advance methods in structural biology in terms of automation and user friendliness. In addition, faculty members from Hamburg lead a number of research projects to meet grand challenges in structural biology. They include activities on viral replication, transcription factor and regulator complexes, protein kinases, translocation receptors, amino acid biosynthesis pathways. Novel opportunities to make use of the X-ray Free Electron Laser (X-FEL) currently being built on campus are also being explored.


EMBL Hamburg
c/o DESY, Notkestraße 85
22607 Hamburg

Phone: +49 40 89 902-110 or 111
Fax: +49 40 89 902-149 or 104

General Enquiries


Head of unit

Research groups at EMBL Hamburg

Fiedler team

Synchrotron instrumentation for structural biology beamlines at PETRA III

Löw group

Structural and dynamic insights into nutrient uptake systems

Svergun group

Small-angle X-ray scattering from macromolecular solutions

Wilmanns group

Structure and function of molecular machinery for protein translocation across membranes

Services and facilities

Small Angle X-Ray Scattering

EMBL Hamburg operates a synchrotron beamline P12 for small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) at the PETRA III storage ring, under the coordination of Dmitri Svergun.

Macromolecular Crystallography

EMBL Hamburg operates two beamlines for macromolecular X-ray crystallography, P13 and P14, at the PETRA III storage ring at DESY (Hamburg, Germany) coordinated by Thomas R. Schneider.

Computational Facilities and Software

EMBL Hamburg offers a variety of computational services. These include facilities for remote computing on the EMBL Hamburg computer cluster and software packages developed at EMBL Hamburg for downloading.

Access to Infrastructures

Access to the beamlines is available to all research groups, and is prioritised on scientific grounds only. Project proposals for beamline access are evaluated by the Project Evaluation Committee (PEC). Rolling proposals are now being accepted and will be reviewed on a regular basis throughout the year.

Latest News

News and updates from EMBL Hamburg

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EMBL Hamburg in brief

Did You Know?

At a planning meeting in 1969, Ken Holmes presented his first exciting results on muscle diffraction using synchrotron radiation. Synchrotron radiation at the Deutsches Elektronensynchrotron (DESY) in Hamburg was immediately added to the EMBL proposal to become the first unit of EMBL.

Read more about EMBL Hamburg history