Oral history of British science

Perutz, Max (Part 19 of 19). National Life Stories Collection: General

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  • Subjects

    Molecular Biology

  • Recording date

    2001-06-30, 2001-08-18, 2001-09-15, 2001-10-06, 2001-10-27, 2001-11-29, 2001-12-08

  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home, Cambridge, UK

  • Interviewees

    Perutz, Max, 1914-2001 (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Thompson, Katherine, (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 19: More talk about the Queen's visit to Cambridge and the new site of the new MRC laboratory in the Addenbrooks Hospital grounds. Back to haemoglobin work. MP had made a model of the molecule but still did not understand how it works. He now explains in detail how he came to understand structural change with oxygen uptake His Nobel Prize lecture was on stuctural change of molecule with the uptake of oxygen - first time to be able to show protein molecule in action. But he still did not understand changes of position of 4 subunits. He now used new machine recording X-ray defraction patterns, students collected data but results did not make sense. Later worked on measurements himself, discovered misalignement of crystal to X-ray machine which then made more sense and he built 1st atomic model of haemoglobin but still did not understand how it works. He collected data for oxygen free form and built 2 models and suddenly saw how it must work by comparing the two models. Explains how he came to see the movement of Fe atom in and out of plane and gives further explanations. Wrote a paper for Nature which explains physiological properties of haemoglobin on basis of the structure. Mentions influence on medical aspects.

  • Description

    Nobel Prize-winning molecular biologist and author Max Perutz is interviewed about his life and work. Mentor to James Watson, co-discoverer of DNA, Perutz died before this interview could be completed.

  • Related links

    Visit this interviewee's page on the 'Voices of Science' web resource

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