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Fellows Directory

Hugh Cairns

Hugh Cairns

Professor Hugh Cairns FRS


Elected: 1974


John Cairns was 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 John’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, John 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.

Professor John Cairns FRS died on 12 November 2018.


  • Leeuwenhoek Medal and Lecture

    On 'Bacteria as proper subjects for cancer research'.

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