Aaron Klug

British chemist and biophysicist

Sir Aaron Klug OM PRS (11 August 1926 – 20 November 2018) was a Lithuanian-born British chemist and biophysicist.[1]

Aaron Klug
Aaron Klug 1979.jpg
Aaron Klug in 1979
Born(1926-08-11)11 August 1926
Died20 November 2018(2018-11-20) (aged 92)
Known forelectron crystallography
AwardsNobel Prize in Chemistry, 1982
Scientific career
FieldsBiophysics, chemistry
InstitutionsUniversity of Cambridge
Birkbeck, University of London

Klug won the 1982 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for developing crystallographic electron microscopy and working out the structure of nucleic acid-protein complexes.[2]


Klug was born in Želva, Lithuania to Jewish parents. The family moved to South Africa when he was two. Klug graduated with a degree in science at the University of Witwatersrand and studied crystallography at the University of Cape Town before moving to England, completing his doctorate at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1953.

He moved to Birkbeck College, University of London, in late 1953, and started working with Rosalind Franklin in John Bernal's lab. This experience aroused a lifelong interest in viruses. During his time there he worked on the structure of the tobacco mosaic virus.

In 1962 he moved to the newly built MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. Klug used methods from X-ray diffraction to develop crystallographic electron microscopy. In this method, two-dimensional images of crystals taken from different angles are combined to make three-dimensional images of the target. He worked out the structure of important nucleic acid-protein complexes.[2]

Between 1986 and 1996 he was Director of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, and was knighted in 1988.[1] He was elected President of the Royal Society, and served from 1995–2000. He was appointed to the Order of Merit in 1995.

Klung died on 20 November 2018 in Cambridge at the age of 92.[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Aaron Klug (1926-)". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 2009–11–07. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (18 October 1982). "The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1982". Press release. http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/chemistry/laureates/1982/index.html. Retrieved 13 September 2007. 
  3. "Aaron Klug (1926 - 2018)". MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology. 21 November 2018.

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