Through Electron Cryo-Microscopy (cryo-EM), Alexey Amunts and his research group have developed a better understanding of the structure of different protein complexes. The end result is finely detailed three-dimensional modelling of some fundamental biological structures. These models provide crucial information about the structures and mechanisms that control the functioning of cells.

Amunts and his group have created pictures of the structural features of mitoribosomes, a protein complex involved in cancer cell metabolism. Mitoribosomes can be an “achilles heel” for tumours, and exploiting this weakness is a focus of cancer research. The group captured the first high-resolution image of a medicine binding to a mitoribosome, opening the door to the possibility of creating tailor-made drugs designed with the help of cryo-EM.

The Lennart Nilsson Award was founded in 1998 in recognition of world-famous Swedish photographer Lennart Nilsson and his work. The aim of the yearly, international award is to encourage visual and imaging techniques in education and research within the fields of medicine, biology, and engineering.