Laboratory of molecular electron microscopy

The Gonen laboratory at the Hollywood sign, May 1st, 2022.

The laboratory of molecular electron microscopy, headed by Tamir Gonen, is located at the David Geffen Medical School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles.

Our laboratory studies the structures of membrane proteins. Based on structure we try to understand function and what goes wrong in disease. We focus primarily on proteins in the blood-brain barrier. The long-standing question in our laboratory is how the thousands of membrane channels and transporters that exist in the cell membrane work together to help cells maintain homeostasis. With that question in mind, we study membrane proteins that are involved in nutrient, ion, and water uptake, waste removal, signaling, and communication.

Our laboratory is multidisciplinary. Over the last decade we have employed structural biology techniques such as electron cryo-microscopy (cryo-EM), X-ray crystallography, NMR, molecular dynamics simulations, and used membrane biochemistry and biophysics to understand the function of the proteins of interest. Within electron microscopy we have published papers using electron tomography, single particle reconstructions, and electron crystallography. However, our specialty lies in electron diffraction.

Part of our laboratory is also devoted to method development in cryo-EM. In recent years we have developed two important methods in electron diffraction, namely fragment-based phase extension and MicroED.

The Gonen laboratory at Crystal Cove, June 16th, 2021.

Tamir Gonen


  • Tamir Gonen receives the 2024 Carl Brändén Award
    Tamir Gonen is the recipient of the 2024 Carl Brändén Award from The Protein Society. The award is presented for his exceptional contributions to education and the study of membrane proteins. Tamir Gonen has led the development of novel methods in structural biology, particularly MicroED, and trained thousands of biochemists and structural biologists around the more…
  • Callie Saeher awarded a Ruth L. Kirschstein fellowship
    Callie Saeher is awarded a postdoctoral national research service award fellowship from the National Institutes of Health for her work on mTORC1 activation. The purpose of the fellowship is to train promising candidates to become productive, independent investigators in scientific health-related research fields.
  • Cody Gillman wins Etter award
    Cody Gillman was awarded the Margaret C. Etter Student Lecturer Award by the American Crystallographic Association for his work on the Design and Implementation of Suspended Drop Crystallization. 
  • Cody Gillman awarded an Audree Fowler fellowship
    Cody Gillman is one of five 2022 Audree Fowler fellows. The fellowship was awarded for his excellent work on determining the structure of a toxin‐antibody complex by MicroED.
  • Michael Martynowycz receives the Sidhu Award
    Michael Martynowycz is the recipient of the 2022 Sidhu Award from the Pittsburgh Diffraction Society for the scientific impact of his work on methods development and his dedication to advancing the field of crystallography through MicroED. The award, in memory of Professor Surhain S. Sidhu, honors significant contributions to the science of crystallography and/or diffraction more…
  • A. L. Patterson Award
    Tamir Gonen is awarded the 2023 A. L. Patterson Award from the ACA: The Structural Science Society for his pioneering work on the cryo-EM method MicroED. RefleXions published an essay on two decades of MicroED development.
  • Hermina Wieske awarded three travel scholarships
    Hermina Wieske is awarded travel scholarships from Liljewalchs stipendiestiftelse, G. Bergmarks stiftelse, and Stiftelsen Bengt Lundqvists minne to visit the Gonen laboratory.
  • Cody Gillman obtains NIH T32 fellowship
    Cody Gillman was awarded an NIH T32 fellowship in Muscle Cell Biology, Pathophysiology and Therapeutics at UCLA for his research on using MicroED to analyze membrane proteins in lipids.
  • Emma Danelius wins the 2022 Suzanne Eaton Memorial Prize
    The prize is intended to recognize a scientist who displays the traits characterized by Dr. Suzanne Eaton, PhD: excellence in their work, passion for their discipline, and a caring personality for their colleagues.
  • Brent Nannenga receives the 2022 Margaret C. Etter Award
    The application and development of the method continues to be major research focus for Brent Nannenga at ASU, who is the recipient of the 2022 Magret C. Etter Early Career Award.
  • Sara Weaver awarded a Ruth L. Kirschstein fellowship
    Sara Weaver wins a Kirschstein individual national research service award from the NIH. The fellowship is awarded to promising postdoctoral candidates who have the potential to become productive, independent investigators.
  • Lisa Clark awarded training grant
    Lisa Clark was awarded a UCLA Tumor Immunology Institutional Training Grant (NIH T32).
  • Xuelang (Maymay) Mu awarded a Jennifer S. Buchwald graduate fellowship in physiology
    Xuelang (Maymay) Mu is the only recipient of the 2020 Jennifer S. Buchwald graduate fellowship in physiology. The fellowship was awarded for her outstanding work on studying the function and structure of the drSLC38A9 protein in the mTORC pathway.
  • Emma Danelius awarded a Wenner‐Gren Foundation postdoctoral fellowship
    Congratulations to Emma Danelius for being awarded a prestigious Wenner‐Gren Foundation postdoctoral fellowship.
  • Shian Liu wins two awards
    Congratulations to Dr. Shian Liu, postdoctoral fellow in our laboratory, for winning two awards in recent weeks. Fellowship Award—Cold Spring Harbor Asia meeting on Membrane Proteins Structure and Function; Outstanding poster presentation award—2017 International Conference on Structural Biology.
  • Brent Nannenga wins Distinguished Young Scholar Seminar Award
    Congratulations to Brent Nannenga who won the Distinguished Young Scholar Seminar Award from the University of Washington ACES program.
  • CMB Training Grant
    Breanna Vollmar and David Dranow were awarded the CMB Training Grant. Congratulations!
  • Career Development Award
    The Gonen laboratory is awarded a Career Development Award from the American Diabetes Association.