The lecture theater at the Crick.

Crick Lecture

Richard Henderson FRS

University of Cambridge

Crick Lectures

Crick Lectures are open to scientists from other institutes and universities in and around London and elsewhere. You should have a minimum of graduate-level biological knowledge to attend, and they are not suitable for school-aged participants. Find out more

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Title: Cryo-EM: past, present and future

Richard Henderson is a molecular biologist and biophysicist, known for his contributions to protein crystallography. Henderson works at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge and has does since 1973. He was also its Director from 1996–2006.

Richard was the first to solve the structure of a protein found in the membrane of a cell. Using X-rays to analyse bacteriorhodopsin, a light-harvesting protein found in tiny microbes, Richard discovered that it was composed of helices. Then, in collaboration with neuroscientist Nigel Urwin, he uncovered the three-dimensional arrangement of the helices within the bacterial membrane by electron microscopy — pioneering the powerful technique’s use to study biological molecules. Their model was published in Nature. He also studied the digestive enzyme chymotrypsin, contributing to our understanding of its mode of action.

Although Henderson has typically worked independently, he has trained a number of scientists who have gone on to independent research careers, including Crick group leader, Peter Rosenthal.

In 2017, Henderson shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Jacques Dubochet and Joachim Frank "for developing cryo-electron microscopy for the high-resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution."