April 18, 2014

Hugh Huxley

It is with sadness that we report the passing of Dr. Hugh Huxley. Dr. Huxley, who has been described as “a pioneer and scientific giant in the muscle field,” was an MBL Corporation Member from 1968 to 2004, and an Emeritus Member from 2004 to 2013. He was also a faculty member of the Physiology course for several years between 1967 and 1981. The MBL flag will be lowered for the next three days in Dr. Huxley’s honor.

Below is more information about his death from Dr. John Kendrick-Jones of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology.

Hugh Huxley – 25th February 1924 – 25th July 2013
It is with great sadness that we have to report that Hugh Huxley died earlier today following a major heart attack on Monday at his home with Frances in Woods Hole.  Hugh was the very first Ph.D. student to join the MRC Unit for the Study of the Molecular Structure of Biological Systems in 1948 under the leadership of Max Perutz, with John Kendrew as his supervisor. During his Ph.D. he began his pioneering studies of muscle structure and function using X-ray diffraction and electron microscopy.  As a post-doc at MIT, with Jean Hanson he proposed the sliding filament theory of muscle contraction in 1954 (simultaneously with A.F. Huxley (no relation) and R. Niedergerke) and described how the interaction between the actin and myosin filaments produced contraction via the cross-bridge cycle.  After a few years at University College London in the later 1950s, he returned as one of the founding members of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in 1962. He was Joint-Head of the Structural Studies Division from 1977 to 1987 and Deputy Director of LMB from 1979 to 1987.  In 1987, he moved to the Rosenstiel Center at Brandeis first as Director and then as Emeritus Professor.  Hugh Huxley was a great experimental scientist, and continued to work on muscle contraction, with his own hands, until the very end.