Authorised form of nameKlug; Sir; Aaron (1926 - 2018)
Dates1926 - 2018
Place of birthZelvas, Lithuania
Date of birth11/08/1926
Date of death20/11/2018
OccupationBiochemist, Molecular Biologist
Durban High School; University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. MSc (Crystallography); PhD (Cambridge, solid state physics)
Junior lectureship, University of Cape Town; Research studentship, Trinity College, Cambridge; worked with Rosalind Franklin, Birkbeck College, London (1953); Director, virus structure research group (1958); invited by Francis Crick to join the Medical Research Council (MRC) laboratory of molecular biology, Cambridge (1962); Joint head, division of structural studies (1978); Director, MRC laboratory (1986)
Medals and prizes:
Nobel Prize (Chemistry) 1982
Kt 1988; OM 1995
Millennium FRSC (2000)
Membership categoryFellow
Date of election20/03/1969
Age at election42
Royal Society activityRoyal Society roles:
Council: 1988-1990, 1995- ; VP 1989-1990; PRS 1995-2000
Medals and prizes:
Copley Medal 1985
Leeuwenhoek 1973; Blackett Memorial 1996; Croonian 2007
General contextFamily emigrated to Africa (1928)

Aaron Klug was a Nobel Prize-winning chemist and biophysicist who made outstanding contributions to molecular biology and, in particular, our knowledge of the structure of viruses. Aaron combined existing electron microscopy and X-ray diffraction techniques to develop crystallographic electron microscopy — a method for constructing three-dimensional structures of biological molecules from two-dimensional images.

His interest in viruses stemmed from a collaboration with Rosalind Franklin at Birkbeck in the 1950s, where he performed structural studies on the helical tobacco mosaic virus. Aaron’s most notable work soon followed — determining that spherical viruses are constructed from repeating protein units arranged according to icosahedral symmetry. This research, together with the development of methods for elucidating structures, led to him receiving the 1982 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Aaron served as Director of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge for a decade from 1986, and from 1995–2000, he led the Royal Society as its President. He received a knighthood in 1988 for his services to molecular biology. His techniques for structural determination are now widely used to study proteins.

Sir Aaron Klug OM FRS died on 20 November 2018.
THES (28/07/2000)
Sir John Meurig Thomas, 'Peterhouse, the Royal Society and molecular biology' in NR 2000 vol 54 pp 369-385
Sir Aaron Klug OM FRS, 'Address at the Service of Thanksgiving for the life of George Porter OM FRS' in NR 2003 vol 57 pp 261-264
R A Crowther, 'Viruses and the development of quantitative biological electron microscopy' in NR 2004 vol 58 pp 65-81
Anne Purkiss 'Scientists 1985 - 2010; Portraits of Fellows of the Royal Society' 2010, p.30
Virtual International Authority File
Royal Society codeNA7313
Archives associated with this Fellow
Reference numberTitleDate
IM/002559Klug, Sir Aaron2001
IM/002556Klug, Sir Aaron1995
IM/002557Klug, Sir Aaronnd
IM/001284Elizabeth, The Queen Mother2000
IM/002558Klug, Sir Aaron2001
IM/000107Anniversary Day 20002000
P/0175Portrait of Klug, Sir Aaron 2000
IM/003357Royal Society Officers at Anniversary Day 20002000
EC/1969/19Klug, Aaron: certificate of election to the Royal Society
IM/006425Klug, Sir Aaron25 July 1995
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