a story lives forever
Sign in
Form submission failed!

Stay signed in

Recover your password?
Form submission failed!

Web of Stories Ltd would like to keep you informed about our products and services.

Please tick here if you would like us to keep you informed about our products and services.

I have read and accepted the Terms & Conditions.

Please note: Your email and any private information provided at registration will not be passed on to other individuals or organisations without your specific approval.

Video URL

You must be registered to use this feature. Sign in or register.


Setting up Cambridge Antibody Technology


Accepting honours and awards
Aaron Klug Scientist
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments

Hugh Huxley and I had been Heads of Divisions and I became Director when... after Sydney Brenner left in 1986, and I was Director for ten years. Originally it was mean to be for seven years, which would have taken me to the retiring age, but I was renewed after seven years because my would-be successor, who turned out to be Richard Henderson and it was clearly... now the current Director... he when approached didn't feel ready to do that, so I was asked to stay on for another three years, but by then, I was fairly... you know, I knew how to do it, and so on.

[Q] Initially, you found it an extra work load?

Oh, yes. I did. Yes... extra work... yes it was. It was... well, I had to deal with Whitehall. I didn't get any honours in my Nobel Prize, didn't even get a CBE which was the current... the current recognition. Nowadays, people are made a Sir even before they get a Nobel Prize, but I didn't even get a CBE. I don't know what happened. I mustn't have been put up for it, but I can hazard a guess at why. And then in 1988 I was offered a Knighthood. MRC put me up, and they said I really ought to accept it, against the tradition of the LMB where Perutz had refused because he didn't want to be different from his colleagues, and Crick had refused because he was going to be the great commoner, and for other reasons. I did plead with him and say, 'Please be a knight.' Sir Francis Crick goes trippingly on the tongue, you see, but he wouldn't satisfy us. Incidentally, I did ask him. I said, 'Why not?' He said, 'I won't accept any honours which carry no function.' So I said, 'Would you be prepared to be a member of the House of Lords, where you can vote and you can affect legislation?' I think he was quite taken aback. He didn't expect that, he said, 'I'd have to think about it.' But in the end, he did accept the OM, which was an honour, a very high honour, which carries no function, other than dining and lunching with the Queen every five years, and having some special dinners at odd occasions, and so on. So he did accept that. But in fact, it was useful in Whitehall, because the... so I got involved with the MRC and quite a lot of administration. The MRC was changing over from... from... in a way, Jim Gowans had been the original Head of the MRC. They used to be called the Secretary, which is the old name like Pepys was Secretary of the Admiralty, but in Dai Rees's time I think he began to be called the Chief Executive, which is the modern term. And I got involved with them, and I got involved with technology transfer, and that was pretty useful.

Born in Lithuania, Aaron Klug (1926-2018) was a British chemist and biophysicist. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1982 for developments in electron microscopy and his work on complexes of nucleic acids and proteins. He studied crystallography at the University of Cape Town before moving to England, completing his doctorate in 1953 at Trinity College, Cambridge. In 1981, he was awarded the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize from Columbia University. His long and influential career led to a knighthood in 1988. He was also elected President of the Royal Society, and served there from 1995-2000.

Listeners: Ken Holmes John Finch

Kenneth Holmes was born in London in 1934 and attended schools in Chiswick. He obtained his BA at St Johns College, Cambridge. He obtained his PhD at Birkbeck College, London working on the structure of tobacco mosaic virus with Rosalind Franklin and Aaron Klug. After a post-doc at Childrens' Hospital, Boston, where he started to work on muscle structure, he joined to the newly opened Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge where he stayed for six years. He worked with Aaron Klug on virus structure and with Hugh Huxley on muscle. He then moved to Heidelberg to open the Department of Biophysics at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research where he remained as director until his retirement. During this time he completed the structure of tobacco mosaic virus and solved the structures of a number of protein molecules including the structure of the muscle protein actin and the actin filament. Recently he has worked on the molecular mechanism of muscle contraction. He also initiated the use of synchrotron radiation as a source for X-ray diffraction and founded the EMBL outstation at DESY Hamburg. He was elected to the Royal Society in 1981 and is a member of a number of scientific academies.

John Finch is a retired member of staff of the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK. He began research as a PhD student of Rosalind Franklin's at Birkbeck College, London in 1955 studying the structure of small viruses by x-ray diffraction. He came to Cambridge as part of Aaron Klug's team in 1962 and has continued with the structural study of viruses and other nucleoproteins such as chromatin, using both x-rays and electron microscopy.

Tags: Hugh Huxley, Richard Henderson, Max Perutz, Francis Crick, Jim Gowans, Dai Rees

Duration: 3 minutes, 22 seconds

Date story recorded: July 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008