The Crystallographic Community

Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1962

Max Ferdinand Perutz and John Cowdery Kendrew

for their studies of the structures of globular proteins

[J.C. Kendrew]

John Cowdery Kendrew
Born Oxford, 24 March 1917
Died Cambridge, 23 August 1997

John Cowdery Kendrew graduated in Chemistry from Trinity College, Cambridge in 1939, and spent the first few months of the war doing research on reaction kinetics in the Department of Physical Chemistry at Cambridge under the supervision of Dr E.A. Moelwyn-Hughes. He then became a member of the Air Ministry Research Establishment (later the Telecommunication Research Establishment) and worked on radar. In 1940 he joined the staff of Sir Robert Watson-Watt (Scientific Adviser to the Air Ministry) and for the rest of the war was engaged in operational research.

During the war years his interests became more biological and, largely as a result of the influence of J.D. Bernal and L. Pauling, he decided to work on the structure of proteins. He returned to Cambridge in 1946 and began a collaboration with Max Perutz, under the direction of Sir Lawrence Bragg.

His research was in the field of protein structure, and centred mainly on the X-ray analysis of myoglobin. This project culminated in the production of a three-dimensional model of myoglobin at 6 Å resolution in 1957, and an almost complete structure in 1960. In 1962, the same year as they were awarded the Nobel Prize, Perutz and Kendrew moved to the new MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in, Cambridge, with Perutz as Director, and Kendrew as Deputy Director and Director of its Division of Structural Studies. Kendrew was appointed Project Leader to develop the European Molecular Biology Lab founded in Heidelberg in 1974. He set up the EMBL outstations at DESY (Hamburg) and ILL (Grenoble) for synchrotron light as an X-ray source and for neutron scattering, the DESY outstation being the first in the world to use synchrotron radiation as a source for X-ray diffraction.

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