The structured world of Oxford

For me as a post-graduate student, the Oxford Laboratory of Dorothy Hodgkin in the mid 1960s seemed like the center of the world. Dorothy had just been given the Nobel Prize. Distinguished crystallographers from all over the world visited to talk about vitamin B12 and to ask of progress with insulin. Young researchers joined from USA, China, India, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and all over Europe, eager to participate in the excitement. The successful lysozyme team of David Phillips moved to Oxford in 1966 and those working on insulin relocated alongside in Old Physiology. It was a very stimulating environment for a young scientist. In 1969, thirty five years after Dorothy had observed the first diffraction from rhombohedral insulin crystals, Guy and Eleanor Dodson, Ted Baker, M. Vijayan and I were lucky to be around when the insulin structure was finally solved, the first protein hormone to be successfully subjected to X-ray analysis. The excitement intensified again, with interest from the international scientific community and the press. Nobel Prize winners Perutz, Kendrew, Sanger, Anfinsen and many others came to see Dorothy and we were asked to write reviews and give lectures at prestigious meetings.

T. Blundell, July 98 Nature Structural Biology

Tom L. Blundell is in the Dept. of Biochem., U. of Cambridge, 80 Tennis Court Rd, Cambridge CB2 1GA, UK, e-mail tom@cryst.bioc.cam.ac.uk.