Dr. Ashraf Al-Amoudi

Group Leader
Dr. Al-Amoudi leads a joint research group of the DZNE and the Forschungszentrum caesar.

German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE)
Ludwig-Erhard-Allee 2
53175 Bonn

+49 (0) 228 / 43302-550
+49 (0) 228 / 43302-685 (Secretary)

Group members

Name Telephone
Carmen Rudert, Assistant +49 (0) 228 / 43302-685
Christoph Klatt, PhD Student +49 (0) 228 / 43302-551
Dr. Olivier Le Bihan, Postdoc +49 (0) 228 / 43302-551
Dr. Sandra Knabe, Postdoc +49 (0) 228 / 43302-551
Svenja Woeste, Technical Assistant +49 (0) 228 / 43302-551
Christian Lamberz, PhD Student +49 (0) 228 / 43302-551

Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Ashraf Al-Amoudi is a biophysicist and electron microscopist. He studied physics at the University of Birzeit in West Bank, Palestine and completed his dissertation in 2004 at the University of Lausanne (supervisor, Prof. Dr. Jacques Dubochet). During his PhD work, he developed and applied cryo-electron microscopy of vitreous sections to various biological specimens in situ. In 2005, he moved to the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg and worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the group of Prof. Dr. Achilleas Frangakis, where he studied the molecular structure of intercellular adhesion junctions using cryo-electron tomography of vitreous sections. In 2010, he moved to Bonn to take up a position as a joint group leader at DZNE and center of advanced european studies and research (caesar) in cryo-electron microscopy and tomography of synapses. 


  • SFB, Transregio Collaborative Research, TRR83 (2014-217)
  • Cluster of Excellence, ImmunoSensation, DFG (2012-217)
  • Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship (2007-2009)
  • EMBO Fellowship (2006-2007)
  • Prize  of  excellence for  the  PhD  work,  Faculty  of Biology and Medicine, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland (2005)

Electron Microscopy courses for Master students at LIMES Institut/UniBonn.


Higher-order architecture of rhodopsin in intact photoreceptors and its implication for phototransduction kinetics. 

Gunkel M, Schöneberg J, Alkhaldi W, Irsen S, Noé F, Kaupp UB, Al-Amoudi A.  Structure. 2015 Apr 7;23(4):628-38. doi: 10.1016/j.str.2015.01.015. Epub 2015 Feb 26.

The adaptor ASC has extracellular and 'prionoid' activities that propagate inflammation. 

Franklin BS, Bossaller L, De Nardo D, Ratter JM, Stutz A, Engels G, Brenker C, Nordhoff M, Mirandola SR, Al-Amoudi A, Mangan MS, Zimmer S, Monks BG, Fricke M, Schmidt RE, Espevik T, Jones B, Jarnicki AG, Hansbro PM, Busto P, Marshak-Rothstein A, Hornemann S, Aguzzi A, Kastenmüller W, Latz E.  Nat Immunol. 2014 Aug;15(8):727-37. doi: 10.1038/ni.2913. Epub 2014 Jun 22.

Three-dimensional visualization of the molecular architecture of cell-cell junctions in situ by cryo-electron tomography of vitreous sections.

Al-Amoudi A, Frangakis AS. Methods Mol Biol. 2013;961:97-117. doi: 10.1007/978-1-62703-227-8_4.

The three-dimensional molecular structure of the desmosomal plaque.

Al-Amoudi A, Castaño-Diez D, Devos DP, Russell RB, Johnson GT, Frangakis AS. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 2011,108, 6480-5  

The molecular architecture of cadherins in native epidermal desmosomes.

Al-Amoudi A, Diez DC, Betts MJ, Frangakis AS. 2007. Nature 450: 832-7  

Fiducial-less alignment of cryo-sections.

Castano-Diez D, Al-Amoudi A, Glynn AM, Seybert A, Frangakis AS. 2007. J Struct Biol 159: 413-23  

Cutting artefacts and cutting process in vitreous sections for cryo-electron microscopy.

Al-Amoudi A, Studer D, Dubochet J. 2005. J Struct Biol 150: 109-21  

Nanostructure of the epidermal extracellular space as observed by cryo-electron microscopy of vitreous sections of human skin.

Al-Amoudi A, Dubochet J, Norlen L. 2005. J Invest Dermatol 124: 764-77  

Stratum corneum keratin structure, function, and formation: the cubic rod-packing and membrane templating model.

Norlen L, Al-Amoudi A. 2004. J Invest Dermatol 123: 715-32  

Cryo-electron microscopy of vitreous sections.

Al-Amoudi A, Chang JJ, Leforestier A, McDowall A, Salamin LM, Norlen LP, Richter K, Blanc NS, Studer D, Dubochet J. 2004. EMBO J 23: 3583-8

A complete list of publications can be found here.

Areas of investigation/research focus

Understanding synaptic structure, function, connectivity and plasticity is fundamental to understanding how the brain works. Our group's aim is to study the structure, the function and plasticity of synapses using a variety of biophysical techniques. These include plunge freezing, high-pressure freezing  and conventional and cryo- electron microscopy and tomography of sections from  animal models, cultured cells or primary cell lines and correlative light and electron microscopy and tomography. In particular we are interested in analyzing the three-dimensional architecture of presynaptic, postsynapatic terminal cytomatrix, the molecular structure of cleft of specific synapses and the structural plasticity in normal aging as well as in neural disorder and age-related dementia (e.g. Alzheimer model disease). Vitrification by plunge freezing and high-pressure freezing enables us to study subtle, transient structural changes (structural plasticity) of synapses associated with functional changes. Synaptic plasticity is fundamental for learning and memory formation where neurons are able to shape their length, structure and distribution of synapses thus accommodating local synaptic activity. Under pathological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, uncontrolled large-scale loss of synapses triggers local neural degeneration.  We aim to study these changes at ultrastructural level using correlative light and electron microscopy and tomography.  In addition to own research, we have several collaborations within DZNE and caesar on synapses, protein misfolds, ion channels and receptors.