Skip to main content


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.


New project launched to accelerate drug discovery

Researchers from the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology have joined a consortium of academics and industry partners as part of a new 9.7MЄ study. The EU-funded project, Fragment-Screen, which is being led by Instruct-ERIC, aims to develop innovative tools that could help to advance new drugs using the approach of fragment-based drug discovery. A team...

New insights into β2-microglobulin amyloid aggregation

The aggregation of β2-microglobulin (β2m) into amyloid fibrils is associated with human disease, but subtly different variants of β2m are associated with diseases with distinct pathologies. Astbury researchers at the University of Leeds have used cryoEM to determine the structures of fibrils formed from three different variants under identical conditions in vitro. The research, from...

University of Leeds secures £5.6 million grant to understand new layer of gene regulation by ribosomes

The five-year project will lead to a better understanding of fundamental biochemical processes of gene regulation and will identify new research strategies for tackling cancer and other diseases. Julie Aspden, Associate Professor of RNA at Leeds and principal investigator, said: “The goal of this project is not only to understand how genes are expressed by...

View all Research Highlights