Perutz, Max Ferdinand

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Perutz, Max Ferdinand

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.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Perutz, Max Ferdinand


Born May 19, 1914, in Vienna. British biochemist of Austrian descent specializing in molecular biology. Member of the Royal Society of London (1954).

Perutz studied at the University of Vienna from 1932 to 1936, after which he moved to Cambridge, Great Britain. He received the Ph.D. degree at Cambridge University in 1940. Perutz directed the unit for molecular biology of the Medical Research Council from 1947 to 1962, and since 1962 has headed the laboratory of molecular biology at Cambridge University. Perutz’ principal works deal with the structure of proteins, using X-ray diffraction analysis, a method that he perfected. He was the first to uncover the three-dimensional structure of the hemoglobin molecule.

Perutz received a Nobel Prize in 1962 with J. Kendrew. He has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Austrian Academy of Sciences since 1963, as well as a member of many scientific societies.


Proteins and Nucleic Acids. Amsterdam, 1962.
In Russian translation:
“Molekula gemoglobina.” In Molekuly i kletki. Moscow, 1966. Pages 7-29.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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