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Max Ferdinand Perutz

Perutz, Max Ferdinand, 1914–2002, British molecular biologist, b. Vienna. One of the pioneers in the field of molecular biology, Perutz studied chemistry at the Univ. of Vienna (1932–36) and then at Cambridge (Ph.D. 1940), where he began a lifelong association with Cavendish Laboratory. There he studied hemoglobin, attempting to use X-ray crystallography to determine the protein's structure. In 1953 he finally developed a methodology for successfully interpreting the X-ray diffraction patterns of large molecules, and he fully decoded the structure of hemoglobin in 1959, permitting understanding of its ability to transport oxygen. For this work he was awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, along with his colleague John Kendrew, who had used Perutz's technique to reveal the structure of myoglobin. Founder (1962) of the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Perutz also was its chairman until 1979. In the early decades of his career Perutz also studied glacier structure and flow.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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