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Father's work
Aaron Klug Scientist
Next Views Duration
1. Father's work 1336 01:55
2. School with a locked library 375 06:03
3. Reading and the book that got me into science 374 03:17
4. Studying at the University of Witwatersrand 242 06:12
5. An MSc and PhD at Cape Town University 201 08:06
6. Reginald W James 177 01:00
7. Meeting my wife and moving to Cambridge 274 02:02
8. Finding work at Cambridge 199 04:37
9. My work on steel helped with accelerating the growth of TMV 139 03:14
10. Politics and working on haemoglobin 164 03:56
11. Moving to Birkbeck College to work in JD Bernal's department 192 07:06
12. Work at Birkbeck and meeting Rosalind Franklin 344 01:53
13. Work with Rosalind Franklin 430 03:06
14. An argument leads to a grant from the National Institutes of Health 180 07:13
15. Starting work on spherical viruses 132 04:17
16. Crick and Watson's work on viruses 231 01:29
17. Rosalind Franklin and the discovery of DNA 1105 04:42
18. After Rosalind Franklin's death 416 06:59
19. Buckminster Fuller inspires my work in the structure of spherical viruses 171 04:07
20. Discovering the structural rules for spherical shell viruses 159 04:09
21. Hugh Huxley – the best electron microscopist in the world 147 03:19
22. Developing 3D electron microscopy 123 02:49
23. Using 3D electron microscopy to understand viruses 96 03:58
24. Image reconstruction in electron microscopy 103 01:58
25. Electron microscopy: defocussing to see transparent objects 85 04:58
26. The main ingredients in modern electron microscopy 85 04:00
27. 3D imaging: X-ray tomography and Godfrey Hounsfield's patent 119 05:14
28. 3D imaging: Allan Cormack 87 03:36
29. Involvement with 3D image reconstruction 85 04:56
30. TMV: attempting to crystallise the A protein 61 03:46
31. TMV: the biological role of the two-layer disc 70 05:07
32. Producing a phase diagram for the A protein 53 03:06
33. TMV: turning the disc into a helix 60 05:00
34. Finding the origin of the assembly of TMV 79 04:45
35. TMV: the direction of assembly 56 05:01
36. Work on the structure of tRNA 92 05:17
37. Competition to solve the structure of tRNA 114 04:25
38. Creating modern structural molecular biology 61 02:22
39. 'It was the time for chromatin' 83 04:15
40. The citation for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1982 159 01:08
41. Choosing to work on chromatin 53 03:47
42. The importance of histones to chromatin structure 88 04:58
43. The solenoid model 83 05:44
44. Crystallising the nucleosome 96 04:13
45. Electron microscope work and crystallising the histone octamer 64 04:16
46. The high-resolution structure of the nucleosome 308 06:20
47. The solenoid structure and developing new technologies 53 06:29
48. Continuing debate on chromatin 66 03:55
49. Experiments with lead enzyme 46 04:53
50. Work on hammerhead ribozymes with Bill Scott 146 04:52
51. Work on Alzheimer's disease: Getting interested 68 05:32
52. Work on Alzheimer's disease: Trying to extract brains 51 03:29
53. Work on Alzheimer's disease: Studying the brain fibres 55 01:56
54. Starting to work on Alzheimer's disease 64 05:54
55. What causes Alzheimer's disease? 91 07:20
56. Interest in active chromatin and work on Xenopus 46 05:44
57. Work on TF3A with Jonathan Miller 103 06:54
58. More work and papers on TF3A 55 07:49
59. Our paper on zinc fingers and other papers on the subject 81 07:52
60. Class II zinc fingers and the effect zinc deficiency has on puberty 67 06:19
61. Solving the structure of a two-zinc finger construct 61 06:53
62. Repertoire selection technology 57 04:21
63. Phage display and solving the 'mystery' of the stereochemical code 53 05:57
64. Refining the structure of zinc fingers 44 03:10
65. Zinc finger binding 78 01:03
66. Intervening in gene expression for the first time 53 07:14
67. Trying to improve the zinc finger constructs 61 03:09
68. Experimenting with zinc finger constructs 57 03:15
69. Yen Choo's company: Gendaq 467 03:25
70. Making zinc finger archives 74 02:52
71. Work on zinc fingers and mitochondria 84 02:52
72. Sangamo's work with zinc fingers 129 00:54
73. Zinc finger work with different viruses 79 05:14
74. Experiments with zinc fingers: 'The mouse ear model' 86 07:11
75. Experimenting with zinc fingers on rabbits and patients 61 05:57
76. Gene editing: Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Disease 112 03:43
77. Gene conversion and gene targeting 62 04:56
78. Highly efficient endogenous human gene correction using zinc fingers 53 04:37
79. The use of zinc fingers in permanent gene therapy 72 07:24
80. Therapeutic use of zinc fingers in serious diseases 62 03:12
81. Teaching at Peterhouse College, Cambridge 113 08:50
82. Winning the Nobel Prize 157 01:33
83. Accepting honours and awards 105 03:21
84. Setting up Cambridge Antibody Technology 161 07:42
85. Lack of interest in therapeutic antibodies 75 05:06
86. Private vs public funding 76 08:25
87. Technology transfer: Ending the patent agreement with Celltech 48 03:28
88. Technology transfer: Grants and awards 56 04:13
89. Creation of the first confocal microscope 180 05:19
90. Confocal microscope – a great step forward 99 04:22
91. Avoiding the threat of privatisation 61 05:00
92. John Sulston's work on Caenorhabditis elegans 97 08:13
93. Will the Human Genome Project work? 80 04:59
94. The first Human Genome Group 51 05:04
95. Gene sequence patents 48 01:29
96. Fellowship of The Royal Society 64 01:51
97. Climate change and the greenhouse effect 124 03:51
98. Two offers of presidency of The Royal Society 82 03:46
99. Climate change and nuclear energy 279 05:49
100. Climate change and the need for governments to take action 69 02:56
101. G8 Summit – a slow process on tackling climate change 55 05:52
102. 'Pusztai affair' and genetically modified crops 104 06:24
103. 'Frankenfoods' and the battle on GM crops 69 06:58
104. The appearance of BSE 56 05:32
105. Science was blamed for BSE 66 06:11
106. Educating the public about BSE 54 06:13
107. Why BSE affected young people 47 01:21
108. BSE and the prion hypothesis 79 05:18
109. Social life at The Royal Society 78 05:30
110. Internal politics at The Royal Society 83 04:23
111. Stem cells and experimentation on human embryos 64 04:09
112. What does a 14-day human embryo look like? 33 01:49
113. Legalising the production of stem cells from embryos 46 02:09
114. Can we beat Thomas Malthus? 57 01:53
115. Talking about the future of molecular biology 156 06:52
116. Influences and heroes 176 04:50
117. The influence of my wife Liebe and my parents 196 02:32
118. Other interests: Egyptology and literature 67 04:14
119. Other interests: Old coins and history 80 06:04
120. Other interests: Cinema, music and my Desert Island Discs project 120 05:30

I was born in Lithuania, one of the Baltic States, but my parents emigrated to South Africa when I was a... when I was... my father went ahead as was the custom in those days and the family followed; and, I was two years old so I remember nothing of this. I had an elder brother who was a couple of years older than me and he doesn't remember much either. But, we came to Durban where members of my mother's family had settled actually around about 1900, after the Boer War. And, so, my mother... belonged to a family called the Gevissers who are quite well known in Durban, and so that's why we chose Durban. My father was trained as a saddler, he... he was actually apprenticed in those days so he knew a great deal about leather. And, he... his father had a farm... a farm is not the right word, they didn't farm but they... they fattened cattle – he was a cattle dealer. And, of course, they had horses and things and my father used to take the cattle long distances to market in the big cities. They would gather them from the small farmers and the small cattle holders. So... so when he came to Durban he worked for the family firm of Gevissers, because of his experience with leather he was involved in hides. They were involved in what were called primary products in those days; they owned wattle farms, which were used as mine props, making... making boxes. They also had leather and hides and so on; my father, because he knew about hides and skins was involved, he was really a hide merchant, that's what it came down to.

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: Lithuania, Baltic States, South Africa, Durban, Boer War

Duration: 1 minute, 55 seconds

Date story recorded: July 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008

Comments (1) Please sign in or register to add comments
Friday, 09 September 2011 11:48 PM
Aaron Klug is a scientist of great ability who tells his stories extremely well, though he assumes...
Aaron Klug is a scientist of great ability who tells his stories extremely well, though he assumes knowledge on the part of his listeners that most of us,(I included), do not have. But this is not a flaw, in my eyes - I feel I have been given a whole new range of information to look into. I came to Web of Stories looking for the interviews with Sydney Brenner, just having re-read H.F. Judson's The Eighth Day of Creation. After listening to Brenner - I was not disappointed -I went to the Klug interviews, as he is also mentioned favorably in the book. I was even better pleased with Klug's stories, and am starting to listen to them a second time through. I highly recommend them to anyone who has even a passing interest in the progress of biological knowledge in the second half of the 20th century. You will meet a brilliant man who has had a very interesting career and who describes it very well.