Max Perutz

Austrian-born British molecular biologist (1914-2002)

Max Ferdinand Perutz FRS OM CBE (19 May 1914 – 6 February 2002) was an Austrian-born British molecular biologist.

Max Perutz

Perutz in 1962
Max Ferdinand Perutz

19 May 1914
Died6 February 2002(2002-02-06) (aged 87)
Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England
Alma mater
Known forHeme-containing proteins
SpouseGisela Clara Peiser (m. 1942; 2 children)
Scientific career
FieldsMolecular biology
InstitutionsUniversity of Cambridge
Laboratory of Molecular Biology
Doctoral advisorJohn Desmond Bernal
Doctoral students

He shared the 1962 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with John Kendrew, for their studies of the structures of haemoglobin and globular proteins. The method used was mainly X-ray crystallography.

He went on to win the Royal Medal of the Royal Society in 1971 and the Copley Medal in 1979. At Cambridge he founded and chaired (1962–79) The Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, fourteen of whose scientists have won Nobel Prizes. Perutz's contributions to molecular biology in Cambridge are documented in The History of the University of Cambridge: Volume 4 (1870 to 1990) published by the Cambridge University Press in 1992.

Perutz was born in Vienna, Austria. His family was Jewish. He had worked in Cambridge (Peterhouse College) since 1936, and moved to Britain permanently after the Anschluss, the Nazi takeover of Austria. He did his war work in Canada, and returned to Cambridge after the war. Max did some of his most important work after winning the Nobel award, and is still held in the highest esteem.[4]

Books by Perutz

  • 1989. Is science necessary? Essays on science and scientists. London. Barrie and Jenkins. ISBN 0-7126-2123-7
  • 1997. Science is not a quiet life : unravelling the atomic mechanism of haemoglobin. Singapore. World Scientific. ISBN 981-02-3057-5
  • 2002. I wish I’d made you angry earlier: essays on science, scientists and humanity. Cold Spring Harbor, New York. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press. ISBN 0-87969-674-5


  1. Anon (1964). "Max Perutz EMBO member".
  2. Crick, Francis Harry Compton (1954). Polypeptides and proteins : X-ray studies. (PhD thesis). University of Cambridge. OCLC 879394484. EThOS
  3. Moffat, John Keith (1969). X-ray studies of chemically-modified horse haemoglobin. (PhD thesis). University of Cambridge. OCLC 500520334. EThOS
  4. Alan R. Fersht, Max Ferdinand Perutz OM PRS, Obituary, Nature Structural & Molecular Biology