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Fellows Directory

John Finch

John Finch

Dr John Finch FRS


Elected: 1982


John Finch was a biophysicist, renowned for his application of electron microscopy — a powerful microscopy technique — and X-rays to biological structures, specifically viruses and DNA. John was the first to reveal the structure of several viruses, and his work laid the foundations for future understanding of biological molecules.

He revealed the helical structure of the tobacco mosaic virus, a virus that infects a wide range of plants, especially tobacco. In collaboration with eminent biophysicist Aaron Klug, he determined the structures of other viruses, including the tomato bushy stunt virus. His work set the standard for rigorous fine structural analysis and paved the way for three-dimensional image reconstruction.

In 1955, he became a PhD student of Rosalind Franklin — the distinguished chemist who made crucial contributions to our understanding of DNA — at Birkbeck College, London. Together they studied the structure of viruses. John subsequently moved to continue his research at the new MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge in 1962.

Dr John Finch FRS died on 5 December 2017.

Biographical Memoir

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