Jacques Dubochet
Dubochet in 2017
Born (1942-06-08) 8 June 1942 (age 81)
EducationÉcole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (BS)
University of Geneva (MS)
University of Geneva (PhD) University of Basel (PhD)
Known forCryo-electron microscopy
AwardsNobel Prize in Chemistry (2017)
Scientific career
FieldsStructural biology
Cryo-electron microscopy
InstitutionsEuropean Molecular Biology Laboratory (1978–1987)
University of Lausanne (since 1987)
Thesis Contribution to the use of dark-field electron microscopy in biology  (1974)
Doctoral advisorEduard Kellenberger

Jacques Dubochet (born 8 June 1942)[1] is a retired Swiss biophysicist.[2][3] He is a former researcher at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany, and an honorary professor of biophysics at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland.[3][4]

In 2017, he received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry together with Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson "for developing cryo-electron microscopy for the high-resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution".[5][6] He received the Royal Photographic Society Progress Medal, alongside his colleagues Professor Joachim Frank and Dr Richard Henderson, in 2018 for 'an important advance in the scientific or technological development of photography or imaging in the widest sense'.[7]


Dubochet started to study physics at the École polytechnique de l'Université de Lausanne (now École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne) in 1962 and obtained his degree in physical engineering in 1967.[4] He obtained a Certificate of Molecular Biology at University of Geneva in 1969 and then began to study electron microscopy of DNA. In 1973, he completed his thesis in biophysics at University of Geneva and University of Basel.[8]

Dubochet at the Nobel Prize press conference in Stockholm (December 2017)

From 1978 to 1987, Dubochet was group leader at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, then part of West Germany.[4] From 1987 to 2007, he was professor at the University of Lausanne.[4] In 2007, at 65 years old, he retired and became an honorary professor at the University of Lausanne.[4]

During his career, Dubochet developed technologies in cryo-electron microscopy, cryo-electron tomography and cryo-electron microscopy of vitreous sections.[9][10][11][12] These technologies are used to image individual biological structures such as protein complexes or virus particles.[3] At Lausanne he took part in initiatives to make scientists more aware of social issues.[13][14]

In 2014, Dubochet received EMBL's Lennart Philipson Award.[9] Describing his career in 2015, Professor Gareth Griffiths, his colleague at EMBL explained: "Jacques had a vision. He found a way of freezing thin films of water so fast that crystals had no time to form [that could damage samples] [...] over time the technique has become increasingly important to life science research, and it is clear today it is Nobel Prize-worthy."[3]

When asked by his university how he would like his Nobel Prize to be recognised by the institution he asked for a parking space for his bicycle which was duly given. He had cycled to his lab almost every day for 30 years.[15]

At the end of November 2021, the Dubochet Center for Imaging (DCI), which bears his name, was launched by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, the University of Lausanne and the University of Geneva. Just a few weeks later, the DCI was able to make a significant contribution to deciphering the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus.[16]

Parking Place Reserved for Jacques Dubochet on the University of Lausanne Campus

Personal life

Dubochet is married with two children.[8] He has dyslexia.[8]

In the 1970s, for the second meeting with his future wife, they went to protest against the Kaiseraugst nuclear power plant construction project.[17]

Dubochet is a member of the Social Democratic Party of Switzerland, and a member of the municipal parliament of Morges, where he holds a seat on the supervisory committee.[18][19] He is also part of the climate movement as a member of the Grandparents for Future and emphasized the urgency of saving our societies.[20]


Notes and references

  1. ^ "Members' Directory – EMBL". www.embl.it. European Molecular Biology Laboratory. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  2. ^ Dubochet, Jacques (February 2016). "A Reminiscence about Early Times of Vitreous Water in Electron Cryomicroscopy". Biophysical Journal. 110 (4): 756–757. Bibcode:2016BpJ...110..756D. doi:10.1016/j.bpj.2015.07.049. PMC 4775787. PMID 26362521.
  3. ^ a b c d Wilson, Rosemary; Gristwood, Alan (24 August 2015). "Science, society & serendipity". European Molecular Biology Laboratory. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Nouveaux professeurs honoraires 2007" [New Honorary Professors] (PDF) (in French). University of Lausanne. p. 13. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 October 2017. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  5. ^ "The 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry – Press Release". www.nobelprize.org. 4 October 2017. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  6. ^ "Nobel Prize in Chemistry Awarded for Cryo-Electron Microscopy". The New York Times. 4 October 2017. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  7. ^ Progress Medal. https://rps.org/about/awards/history-and-recipients/progress-medal/ Accessed 3 December 2020
  8. ^ a b c "Prof. Jacques Dubochet – Honorary Professor of biophysics [curriculum vitae]". University of Lausanne. Archived from the original on 4 October 2017. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  9. ^ a b "Alumni awards". EMBL. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  10. ^ Dubochet, J.; Lepault, J.; Freeman, R.; Berriman, J. A.; Homo, J.-C. (December 1982). "Electron microscopy of frozen water and aqueous solutions". Journal of Microscopy. 128 (3): 219–237. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2818.1982.tb04625.x. S2CID 56235338.
  11. ^ Dubochet, J.; McDowall, A. W. (December 1981). "Vitrification of pure water for electron microscopy". Journal of Microscopy. 124 (3): 3–4. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2818.1981.tb02483.x. S2CID 96725200.
  12. ^ Dubochet, Jacques (March 2012). "Cryo-EM-the first thirty years". Journal of Microscopy. 245 (3): 221–224. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2818.2011.03569.x. PMID 22457877. S2CID 30869924.
  13. ^ Dubochet, Jacques (January 2008). "Citizen biologists. The Lausanne experience". EMBO Reports. 9 (1): 5–9. doi:10.1038/sj.embor.7401146. PMC 2246622. PMID 18174891.
  14. ^ Dubochet, Jacques (April 2003). "Teaching scientists to be citizens". EMBO Reports. 4 (4): 330–332. doi:10.1038/sj.embor.embor810. PMC 1319166. PMID 12671671.
  15. ^ @CycleLuxembourg (15 October 2019). "The Swiss Biophysicist and Nobel laureate Jacques Dubochet had been cycling to his lab at Lausanne university for t…" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  16. ^ "Researchers analyse Omicron variant's spike protein at EPFL imaging lab". Sciencebusiness. 4 January 2022. Retrieved 30 April 2022.
  17. ^ (in French) Muriel Raemy, "J'ai toujours voulu comprendre le monde", Moneta, journal of the Alternative Bank Switzerland, number 2 of year 2018, pages 21–22.
  18. ^ "Jacques Dubochet, le savant atypique". Le Temps (in French). 4 October 2017. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  19. ^ "Le CV tout en humour du prix Nobel vaudois Jacques Dubochet" [The humorous CV of the Waldensian Nobel Prize Jacques Dubochet] (in French). Radio Télévision Suisse. 4 October 2017. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  20. ^ "Responsible Scientist (online) – Agora Talks | Lindau Mediatheque". Lindau Nobel Mediatheque. 28 June 2023. Retrieved 1 July 2023.