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Fellows Directory

Hugh Cairns

Professor Hugh Cairns FRS


Elected: 1974


Hugh Cairns is renowned for his work on chromosome replication. A series of simple yet elegant experiments, involving autoradiography of DNA from Escherichia coli, showed the length of the chromosome and the replicating fork, and lead to the model associated with Hugh’s name. Later studies resulted in the isolation of an important polymerase mutant which changed currently accepted ideas about the enzymes involved in DNA replication. Earlier, Hugh had made several significant discoveries about the growth of viruses. They included the slow virus release from animal as opposed to bacterial cells, cytoplasmic sites of virus synthesis, and early genetic mapping of an animal virus.