Sheldrick, George, Prof. Dr.

Professor of Structural Chemistry and part-time programming technician at the University of Göttingen

  • PhD (1966) University of Cambridge with E.A.V. Ebsworth; thesis entitled "NMR Studies of Inorganic Hydrides"
  • 1966 - 1978: University Lecturer and Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge
  • Since 1978 Professor at the University of Göttingen
  • Since 2011 Niedersachsen Professor at the University of Göttingen (emeritus)
  • Author of about 800 scientific papers and of a computer program called SHELX (

Major Research Interests

Interested in methods of solving and refining crystal structures (both small molecules and proteins) and in structural chemistry.
Holy Grail: the Crystallographic Phase Problem. If only there was an easy way of measuring the phases of X-ray reflections as well as their intensities, crystal structures could be determined directly. At resolutions of better than about 2.5A, there are more measured intensities than atomic coordinates, so the problem is overdetermined and there should be a solution. Recently we were able to increse the size of structures that can be solved from the intensity data alone by "ab initio direct methods" from about 200 to 1000 unique atoms, given data to "atomic resolution", but most interesting macromolecular structures are still out of the reach of such methods. Indirctly however the same techniques are proving very useful for the solution of large macromolecular structures when a little starting phase information is available, e.g. by incorporating heavy atoms into the crystal.

Homepage Department/Research Group:

Selected Recent Publications

  • Rodriguez, D.D., Große, C., Himmel, S., Gonzalez, C., de Ilarduya, I.M., Becker, S., Sheldrick, G.M., Uson, I. (2009) Crystallographic ab initio protein structure below atomic resolution. Nature Methods 6 651-653
  • Sheldrick, GM (2008) A short history of SHELX. Acta Crystallogr A64:112-122 (open access) This paper is currently the most highly cited scientific paper of the last five years in all subjects; see
  • Beck T, Krasauskas A, Grüne T, Sheldrick GM (2008) A magic triangle for experimental phasing of macromolecules. Acta Crystallogr D64 1179-1182
  • Pfoh R, Laatsch H, Sheldrick GM (2008) Crystal structure of trioxacarcin A covalently bound to DNA. Nucleic Acids Research 36:3508-3514 (open access)
  • Pal A, Debreczeni JE, Sevvana M, Grüne T, Kahle B, Zeeck A, Sheldrick GM (2008) Structures of viscotoxins A1 und B2 from European mistletoe solved using native data alone. Acta Crystallogr D64:985-992