Malcolm Irving is a biophysicist who has made crucial contributions to our understanding of muscle, including the pioneering of new techniques for its study and for defining how it contracts. His novel approaches have broad applications for research into how proteins change shape.
Using X-ray and optical techniques, Malcolm measured the formation of crossbridges — linkages between different parts of muscle that are required for it to contract. He subsequently characterised the changes in the structure of the crossbridges that drive contraction. He also developed fluorescent probe-based techniques for measuring real-time structural changes in the proteins of muscle cells. More recently he has applied these techniques to advance understanding of the molecular basis of the regulation of muscle contraction.