3DEM History and Genealogy 1968-2011

Welcome to the Web Page on the History of 3-Dimensional Electron Microscopy in Biology

Since the inception of the field of 3-Dimensional Electron Microscopy in Biology in 1968 there has been remarkable growth in the number of labs and scientists active in the field of 3DEM.

The aim of this website is to provide links to some of the original papers which spawned the field and reviews which have chronicled the subsequent development of the field. Several of these resources are published personal accountings by colleagues who were central in the field, and also narratives written especially for this project.

An attempt has been made to present a genealogy reflecting the original groups in the field and to show how the field has propagated from the few pioneer laboratories in 3DEM, and the interrelationships between them.

The genealogy data in the map has purposely been cut off at the year 2011. This arose because of the almost exponential rise in 3DEM activity since this date. We felt that chronicling the early steps of the development of the field would provide a valuable resource in understanding how the field evolved.

Here is a link to the criteria used for inclusion in the genealogy.

We rely on you, our colleagues, to make further contributions to the website and to guide us in the accuracy of the facts we present. Please feel free to contact us (Alexis, Martin, Ardan)!

Network Visualization

3D EM Genealogy Criteria

This is an attempt at an academic genealogy of the field of 3D EM and is a work in progress.

Academic genealogy: Frequently Asked Questions

This genealogy aims to record the growth of the field of 3D EM from 1968 to 2011

Who is included?

Researchers who hold or have held permanent positions and who have made a significant contribution to the field of 3D EM. PhD students, postdocs and other non-permanent scientists are not included. Tenure-track faculty are included.

Technical Staff with more than 5 publications in the field of 3DEM are also included in the list.

What do arrows signify?

Links denote mentorship. Typically, PhD supervisor – student and PI – postdoc relationships are denoted by links. If a person trained or worked in more than one lab, these relationships may be indicated.

Why are some nodes larger, more visible than others?

The choice of which nodes to emphasize aims to reflect:

  • Those scientists who initiated the field of 3D EM
  • The number of their academic “descendants”
  • The fact that some researchers entered the field independently of others, in a sense becoming “first-generation” contributors

Why is X not included? I can see errors, can they be corrected?

Since there is no authoritative source for information needed to compile this genealogy we rely on feedback to ensure there are no omissions or other mistakes.

Development of the field of 3DEM

Group photograph taken at the first Gordon Research Conference for 3D EM, 1985, Hawthorne College, New Hampshire

Publications related to the history of 3D EM

David DeRosier 3D reconstruction from electron micrographs a personal account of its development Methods Enzymol. 2010;481:1-24
Bob Glaeser Review: Electron Crystallography: Present Excitement, a Nod to the Past, Anticipating the Future J Struct Biol. 1999 Dec 1;128(1):3-14
Ken Taylor, Bob Glaeser Retrospective on the early development of cryoelectron microscopy of macromolecules and a prospective on opportunities for the future J Struct Biol. 2008 Sep;163(3):214-23
Obituary: Walter Hoppe J. Appl. Cryst. (1987) 20, 324-325
Bruno Strasser, Jacques Dubochet Obituary: Eduard Kellenberger (1920-2004) Nature. 2005 Feb 24;433(7028):817
Marin van Heel Jean-Pierre Bretaudière (1946-2008) and the early days of multivariate statistics in electron microscopy In: "An electronic text book: Electron microscopy in Life Science", 3D-EM Network of Excellence, Editors: A. Verkley and E. Orlova (2009)
R. Nuzzo Profile of Chikashi Toyoshima Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Jan 31;103(5):1165-7
Aaron Klug Aaron Klug - Autobiography Nobelprize.org. 17 Jul 2011
Don Caspar, David DeRosier The 1982 Nobel Prize in chemistry Science. 1982 Nov 12;218(4573):653-5
John Finch A Nobel Fellow on Every Floor Book published by MRC/LMB
Anthony Crowther From Envelopes to Atoms: The Remarkable Progress of Biological Electron Microscopy Adv Protein Chem Struct Biol. 2010;81:1-32.
Viruses and the development of quantitative biological electron microscopy Notes Rec R Soc Lond. 2004 Jan;58(1):65-81.
Nikolai Andreevich Kiselev Nikolai Andreevich Kiselev (On the Occasion of His 80th Birthday) Kristallografiya, 2008, Vol. 53, No. 6, pp. 1149–1150. translated in Crystallography Reports, 2008, Vol. 53, No. 6, pp. 1091–1092
Wolfgang Baumeister A voyage to the inner space of cells Protein Sci. 2005 January; 14(1): 257–269.
Arthur L Robinson Electron Microscopy: Imaging Molecules in Three Dimensions Science 1976 April; Vol. 192 no. 4237 pp. 360-400
Jacques Dubochet Cryo-EM—the first thirty years Journal of Microscopy 2011; Vol. 245 no. 3 pp. 1-4
Joachim Frank Single-particle Cryo-electron Microscopy: The Path Toward Atomic Resolution/Selected Papers Of Joachim Frank With Commentaries (Series in Structural Biology) April 6, 2018

Original personal narratives

These narratives were specially provided to this 3DEM history website by the authors below. We welcome further contributions.

Robert Josephs A profile of a researcher in the field of electron crystallography October 2015
Michael Rossmann A short scientific autobiography of Michael G. Rossmann September 2011
Ondreij Krivanek Ondrej Krivanek’s contribution to microscopy: Memories of an adventure! August 2018

Other Links

Web of stories: video interview of Aaron Klug & Nobel interview with Aaron Klug
DeRosier & Klug (1968)
"Reconstruction of three dimensional structures from electron micrographs"
Crowther et al. (1970)
"Three dimensional reconstructions ofn spherical viruses by fourier synthesis from electron micrographs"
Hoppe (1974)
"Three-dimensional reconstruction of individual negatively stained yeast fatty-acid synthetase molecules from tilt series in the electron microscope"
Henderson & Unwin (1975)
"Three-dimensional model of purple membrane obtained by electron microscopy"


Martin Kessel (martink1937@gmail.com)
Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the National Cancer Institute, NIH
Alexis Rohou (a.rohou@gmail.com)
John Henry J. Scott (johnhenry.scott@nist.gov)
National Institute of Standards and Technology
Ardan Patwardhan (ardan@ebi.ac.uk)
Sriram Somasundharam (sriram@ebi.ac.uk)