Renowned Scientist Wolfgang Baumeister Presents Public Lecture on Cryo-Electron Tomography

Yesterday, renowned scientist, Wolfgang Baumeister, delivered a lecture on Cryo-Electron Tomography, a field he has pioneered in for over 30 years. Baumeister is Director of the Department of Structural Biology at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried and a Distinguished Professor at ShanghaiTech University. He is a member of several academies including the German Academy of Sciences, Leopoldina, the US National Academy of Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


Professor Baumeister's research focuses on the development of new tools and methods for the structural characterization of molecules and cells. His particular focus is in cryo-electron tomography for molecular and supramolecular structures, explored in their native environments.  


During his lecture, Professor Baumeister discussed the unique potential of cryo-electron tomography to study the supramolecular architecture or "molecular sociology" of cells. He shared his team's work on the 26S proteasome in various cellular settings, revealing their location, assembly, and activity status as well as their interactions with other molecular players. Professor Baumeister also discussed his team's work on Huntington and ALS diseases, the challenges they faced in the early days of Cryo-ET and how the mechanism is not fully understood.  


Professor Baumeister concluded his lecture by outlining the further developments that are still required. These include faster automated Focused Ion Beam (FIB) and cryo-lift out technology as key factors in realizing the full potential of Cryo-ET. Additionally, he discussed the integration of superresolution cryo-fluorescence microscopy and ion beam instruments to narrow the resolution gap between Cryo-EM and Cryo-LM. Professor Baumeister also emphasized the importance of eliminating the effects of specimen motion experimentally or computationally to recover high-resolution information. He suggested the development of automated procedures using deep learning for segmentation and template-free methods for particle detection and sorting to mine the rich information of tomograms. Finally, he discussed the integration of complementary information such as protein stoichiometry and proximity to further advance Cryo-ET research.


Professor Baumeister spent the last month as a visiting scholar at the Kavli Institute with both his visit and talk sponsored by the Vallee Foundation. After the event, a drinks reception was held where the attendees had the opportunity to engage in conversation with Prof Baumeister.

Professor Baumeister giving the KRED Talk


Huntington Disease Slide from the Presentation


Cellular Cryo-Electron Tomography: Mouse Retina Rod Outer Segment Slide


Professor Baumeister, Professor Robinson and Professor Elliott at the drinks reception