about SBRC

The research goal of the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK) is to answer the most fundamental questions about the universe as a whole, and the matter and the life it contains. The structural biology group, in the KEK, has been developed on a mission to answer important questions about life, under the guidance of Prof. Sakabe (1985-), Prof. Wakatsuki (2000-) and Prof. Senda (2013-present).

The Structural Biology Research Center (SBRC) was founded in May 2003 in the Photon Factory (PF), Institute of Materials Structure Science (IMSS). At present, approximately 40 members are working at the center, with around half engaged in beamline operations, and the other half involved in biological research.

What are we doing in the SBRC?

All living things are composed of one or more cells. For example, it is known that humans consist of 60,000,000,000,000 cells. Like a car in a city, each cell has an individual purpose/function, respectively.

However, there is a clear difference between cars and cells. Cars cannot double, or repair themselves, but cells can divide (to become two cells) and can also be repaired with the correct signalling mechanisms, and energy supply. Such a difference comes from the large number of components, and the huge diversity in the combination of components. In general, a car contains 4000 types of components, but a human cell contains at least 20,000-30,000 types of components. We believe that the structural studies of these components are indispensable for the elucidation of the mechanisms of such a complicated system.

Cells are mainly composed of proteins, nucleic acids, sugars, and lipids. These kinds of components are usually around the order of nanometres in size. In order to visualise the 3D-structure of these components at atomic resolution, we primarily use a technique called X-ray crystallography, and for lower resolution we often perform small angle X-ray scattering.


 1971.04. High Energy Physics Laboratory
 1985.04. Sakabe group
 (group leader:Prof. Sakabe)
 1997.04. High Energy Accelerator
       Research Organization
 2000.05. Structural Biology Group
 (group leader:Prof. Wakatsuki)
 2003.05. Structural Biology Research Center
 (Director:Prof. Wakatsuki)
 2013.01. Prof. Senda joined as the director