Joachim Frank

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Joachim Frank
Joachim Frank.jpg
Joachim Frank under Nobel Prize press conference in Stockholm, December 2017
Born (1940-09-12) 12 September 1940 (age 77)
Siegen, Germany
Citizenship United States, Germany[1]
Education University of Freiburg (BS)
University of Munich (MS)
Max Planck Society
Technical University of Munich (PhD)
Known for Single-particle cryo-electron microscopy
Ribosome structure and dynamics
Carol Saginaw (m. 1983)
Children Ze Frank & Mariel Frank
Awards Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Science (2014)
Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences (2017)
Nobel Prize in Chemistry (2017)
Scientific career
Fields Structural biology
Cryo-electron microscopy
Institutions Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics
Doctoral advisor Walter Hoppe
Other academic advisors Robert M. Glaeser, Robert Nathan

Joachim Frank (born 12 September 1940) is a German-born American biophysicist at Columbia University and a Nobel laureate. He is regarded as the founder of single-particle cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM), for which he shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2017 with Jacques Dubochet and Richard Henderson.[2] He also made significant contributions to structure and function of the ribosome from bacteria and eukaryotes.

Life and career[edit]

Frank was born in Weidenau/Sieg. After completing his Vordiplom (B.S.) degree in Physics at the University of Freiburg (1963)[3] and his Diplom under Walter Rollwagen's mentorship at the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich with the thesis "Untersuchung der Sekundärelektronen-Emission von Gold am Schmelzpunkt" (Investigation of secondary electron emission of gold at its melting point) (1967), Frank obtained his Ph.D. from the Technical University of Munich for graduate studies in Walter Hoppe's lab at the Max Planck Institut für Eiweiss- und Lederforschung (now Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry) with the dissertation Untersuchungen von elektronenmikroskopischen Aufnahmen hoher Auflösung mit Bilddifferenz- und Rekonstruktionsverfahren[4] (Investigations of high-resolution electron micrographs using image difference and reconstruction methods) (1970). The thesis explores the use of digital image processing and optical diffraction in the analysis of electron micrographs, and alignment of images using the cross-correlation function.

As a Harkness postdoctoral fellow, he had the opportunity to study for two years in the United States: with Robert Nathan at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology; with Robert M. Glaeser at Donner Lab, University of California, Berkeley and with Benjamin M. Siegel at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.[5][6][7][8] In the fall of 1972 he returned briefly to the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried as research assistant, working on the theory of partial coherence in electron microscopy,[9] then, in 1973, he joined the Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge as Senior Research Assistant under Vernon Ellis Cosslett.

In 1975 Frank was offered a position of Senior Research Scientist in the Division of Laboratories and Research (now Wadsworth Center), New York State Department of Health [10][11] , where he started working on single-particle approaches in electron microscopy.[12] In 1985 he was appointed Associate and then (1986) Full Professor at the newly formed Department of Biomedical Sciences of the University at Albany, State University of New York. In 1987 and 1994, he went on Sabbaticals in Europe, one to work with Richard Henderson, Laboratory of Molecular Biology Medical Research Council in Cambridge and the other as a Humboldt Research Award winner with Kenneth C. Holmes, Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg.[10] In 1998 Frank was appointed Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). Since 2003 he was also lecturer at Columbia University, and he joined Columbia University in 2008 as Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics and of Biological Sciences.

Awards (selection)[edit]

Selected publications[edit]




  1. ^ Frank, Joachim (2017), Curriculum Vitae. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
  2. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2017". The Nobel Foundation. 4 October 2017. Retrieved 6 October 2017. 
  3. ^ Entry in the University Archive Freiburg, Prüfungsausschuss für Diplom-Physiker B 11/593
  4. ^ Entry in the catalogue of the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek: DNB 482124628
  5. ^ Mossman, 2007
  6. ^
  7. ^ Mossman, K (December 2007). "Profile of Joachim Frank". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 104: 19668–70. doi:10.1073/pnas.0710323105. PMC 2148354Freely accessible. PMID 18056798. 
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^ Frank, Joachim (1973), "The envelope of electron microscopic transfer functions for partially coherent illumination", Optik, 38: 519–539 .
  10. ^ a b Mossman, Kaspar (2005), "Profile of Joachim Frank", PNAS, 104 (50): 19668–19670, doi:10.1073/pnas.0710323105, PMC 2148354Freely accessible .
  11. ^ Wicher, Konrad (2006). History of the electron microscope: the high voltage electron microscope and beyond at the Division of Laboratories and Research/Wadsworth Center. Albany, New York: Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health. p. 149. 
  12. ^ Frank, Joachim (1975), "Averaging of low-exposure electron micrographs of non-periodic objects", Ultramicroscopy, 1 (2): 159–162, doi:10.1016/s0304-3991(75)80020-9, PMID 1236029 .
  13. ^ Book of Members 1780–present (PDF, 878 kB) at American Academy of Arts and Sciences (; Retrieved February 23, 2017.
  14. ^ "Joachim Frank". January 12, 2006. Retrieved February 23, 2017. 
  15. ^ "Joachim Frank". December 12, 2014. Retrieved February 23, 2017. 
  16. ^ "The 16th Annual Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences Awarded for Pioneering Developments in Electron Microscopy". February 22, 2017. Retrieved February 23, 2017. 
  17. ^ "Nobel Prize in Chemistry Awarded for Cryo-Electron Microscopy". The New York Times. October 4, 2017. Retrieved 4 October 2017. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]