Werner Kühlbrandt studied chemistry and crystallography at the Free University Berlin, and biochemistry and biophysics at King's College London. He did his PhD with Nigel Unwin at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK, investigating the structure of two-dimensional ribosome crystals by electron microscopy. He turned to structural studies of membrane proteins as a postdoc, first at the ETH Zürich, and then at Imperial College London. After a short stay at UC Berkeley, CA, he became a group leader at the EMBL Heidelberg in 1988. Since 1997 he is a director at the Max Planck Institute of Biophysics in Frankfurt, Germany, where his department of Structural Biology studies the structure and mechanisms of membrane proteins by X-ray and electron crystallography, single-particle cryo-EM, electron tomography and biophysical methods.