Welcome to the Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology

The ISMB thrives on scientific excellence and research integrity within a supportive culture of inclusion and diversity. The institute coordinates UCL's and Birkbeck's strategy in our fields of scientific enquiry. The ISMB was founded in 2003 to promote multi-disciplinary research at the interface of structural-, computational- and chemical biology at UCL and Birkbeck. Since then, we have become one of the internationally premier institutions in multidisciplinary life sciences. Scientists at UCL and Birkbeck work hand-in-hand to deliver our mission, to push the frontiers of science and to communicate our discoveries in research-led teaching. Our research portfolio encompasses several foci, including (i) gene expression & RNA biology, (ii) protein folding, membranes & trafficking, (iii) microbiology & synthetic biology, (iv) metabolism, cancer & biological chemistry and (v) evolution, AI & deep learning. Our activities are supported by our host institutions and generous support from the Research Councils UK as well as key global charities including the Wellcome Trust. We are fortunate to harbour sophisticated high-end instrumentation including cryogenic electron microscopy and electron tomography, nuclear magnetic resonance, mass spectrometry, and single-molecule biophysics that play a pivotal role in enableing our aims and objectives.

Mission - The ISMB brings together scientists from a broad range of backgrounds. We share a passion for discovery and address important research questions in an integrative fashion - from molecules to systems.

Vision - Important future challenges of biomedicine require that we break the traditional boundaries between structural, molecular and cell biology. We are pioneering (i) Multi-disciplinary approaches aimed to bridge across the scales of biology, and (ii) Methods to integrate disparate data across the disciplines.


  • Scientific excellence
  • Positive research culture
  • Integrity and transparency
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Engaging the community

Developing and delivering knowledge

The ISMB will strengthen the identity of structural and molecular biology required to provide a deeper understanding of the mechanisms and molecular basis of health and disease.

Global research community leadership

We are particularly recognized for electron microscopy and integrated structural biology approaches. We aim at fostering and leading this field on the global stage.

Training the next generation of scientists

Our high-end instrumentation, know-how and track record provide the optimal environment to train the leaders of the future. We aim to engage, support and retain the most promising talent in structural and molecular biology.

Advocating fundamental sciences

We take a lead in the communication and dissemination of the values of our research in addressing global problems and challenges by engaging a wider community.


At the ISMB, we pride ourselves in doing world-class research in the most collegial and collaborative environment, with emphasis on a positive research culture of mentoring and promoting equal opportunities for researchers at all levels, across undergraduate- and postgraduate students, postdoctoral researchers, research fellows, and junior and senior faculty members. We have a very persuasive track record in supporting women in science and pay acutely heed to all aspects of equality, diversity and inclusion.

I would like to invite you to visit and learn more about our research and teaching activities, our brilliant staff and high-calibre technical facilities, and last but least to join us in our range of seminars, subject specific clubs, and symposia, most of which have moved online for the duration of the Covid-19 crisis.








Franca Fraternali, Director of the ISMB