Alasdair Steven, Ph.D.

Senior Investigator

Laboratory of Structural Biology Research


Building 50, Room 1517
50 South Drive
Bethesda, MD 20814


Research Topics

The Steven Laboratory seeks to elucidate structure-function-assembly relationships of macromolecular complexes by cryo-electron microscopy integrated with other approaches. Systems currently under study include viruses, cytoskeletal filaments, energy-dependent proteases, and amyloid filaments.

There are five main topics studied by the lab:

  • Structural virology
  • Energy-dependent proteases
  • Beta-fibrins
  • Macromolecular Complexes in Skin and Muscle
  • Methodological Developments


Alasdair Steven received his M.A. in Mathematics from the University of Edinburgh and then took Part III of the Mathematical Tripos and a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from the University of Cambridge. He then switched to molecular biology, spending five years as a postdoctoral fellow with Prof. Eduard Kellenberger at the University of Basel, during which time he earned a Swiss Certificate in Molecular Biology. In 1978, he was appointed to a tenure-track position at the NIH and started a small group specializing in computer-enhanced electron microscopy, which has since grown considerably and in 1990 was converted into the Laboratory of Structural Biology Research. Dr Steven is past chair of the Gordon Conference on Three-dimensional Electron Microscopy of Biological Macromolecules, the FASEB Conference on Virus Assembly, and the 15th International Conference on Bacteriophage and Virus Assembly. He also serves as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Structural Biology.

Selected Publications

  1. Wu W, Thomas JA, Cheng N, Black LW, Steven AC. Bubblegrams reveal the inner body of bacteriophage φKZ. Science. 2012;335(6065):182.

  2. Fontana J, Jurado KA, Cheng N, Ly NL, Fuchs JR, Gorelick RJ, Engelman AN, Steven AC. Distribution and Redistribution of HIV-1 Nucleocapsid Protein in Immature, Mature, and Integrase-Inhibited Virions: a Role for Integrase in Maturation. J Virol. 2015;89(19):9765-80.

  3. DiMattia MA, Watts NR, Cheng N, Huang R, Heymann JB, Grimes JM, Wingfield PT, Stuart DI, Steven AC. The Structure of HIV-1 Rev Filaments Suggests a Bilateral Model for Rev-RRE Assembly. Structure. 2016;24(7):1068-80.

  4. Tolun G, Vijayasarathy C, Huang R, Zeng Y, Li Y, Steven AC, Sieving PA, Heymann JB. Paired octamer rings of retinoschisin suggest a junctional model for cell-cell adhesion in the retina. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016;113(19):5287-92.

  5. McHugh CA, Fontana J, Nemecek D, Cheng N, Aksyuk AA, Heymann JB, Winkler DC, Lam AS, Wall JS, Steven AC, Hoiczyk E. A virus capsid-like nanocompartment that stores iron and protects bacteria from oxidative stress. EMBO J. 2014;33(17):1896-911.

This page was last updated on August 1st, 2017