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The Astbury Centre brings together structural molecular biologists, cell biologists, chemists and physicists who want to use the power of interdisciplinary science to understand the dynamic biological processes that underpin life. We are working to understand how the structure and function of a wide range of biological molecules (and the complexes they make) underpin the function of healthy cells and to understand what goes wrong in disease. The Astbury Centre specialises in all major techniques for high-resolution structure determination of large molecules, including cryo-electron microscopy, NMR spectroscopy, X-ray crystallography, as well as a battery of sophisticated biophysical tools such as mass spectrometry, confocal and super-resolution imaging, atomic force microscopy amongst many others.

Crucial to the mission of the Centre is to integrate the results of structural studies with powerful programmes of functional analysis, and further support our discoveries by theoretical analyses such as bioinformatics, molecular modelling and simulation. Our mission is therefore to use the power of modern integrated structural biology to drive new biological and biomedical discovery, and deliver on our ultimate aim: to understand life in molecular detail.

Research Themes

Our research themes address major impact-oriented challenges by drawing on the full breadth of our interdisciplinary capabilities. In each theme, there is a buoyant portfolio of research involving large numbers of PIs within the Centre that additionally draws on our partnerships with academic, clinical and industrial collaborators. The themes are part of broader remit of Astbury Centre which is to harness interdisciplinary approaches to understand life in molecular detail.

Research Capabilities

We harness the power of interdisciplinary science to unravel the molecular mechanisms that underpin life. We develop and harness a wide range of techniques, often in combination, to address major research questions. We have outstanding research capabilities in structural molecular biology, biophysics, chemical biology and molecular interactions in cells.


Nanobody technology offers promise for stopping cancer spread

New research carried out at the University of Leeds, in collaboration with the CRUK Scotland Institute and the University of Cambridge, has led to the discovery of a nanobody that offers a potential new approach for preventing the spread of cancer, known as metastasis. A protein called Fascin-1, which is found at high levels in...

Rescuing ribosomes and bewildering bear hugs: inside a critical biological process

A group of scientists from the University of Leeds and the University of Dundee have discovered new knowledge in how ribosomes – the key machinery that makes proteins for our cells - are rescued. The researchers used an imaging technique called cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) to visualise the 3D structure of UREL bound to the ribosome...

Shapeshifting fibers: capturing the transformation of a rogue protein

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team of researchers has revealed intricate 3D detail of how the structure of a malfunctioning protein, hIAPP, evolves over time. Scientists used Cryo-Electron Microscopy (cryoEM) – a high resolution imaging technique - to determine the structures of the hIAPP amyloid fibrils present at three distinct points of growth; an...

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