Prof. Axel Brunger
Earlier in his career, Brunger developed computational tools for determination of X-ray crystal structures and made the methods accessible to the non-expert. Among his innovations that have become standards in the field are simulated annealing refinement, a method to overcome local minima, and the free R value, an objective measure of a model’s quality. More recently, Brunger uncovered molecular mechanisms of neurotransmitter release when synaptic vesicles fuse with active zones of presynaptic neurons. To capture and study the protein machinery at work, he determined three-dimensional structures ranging from atomic to cellular resolutions and then reconstituted these machines with biophysical assays.