Biophysicists

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Biophysicists observe and study chemical and physical properties of living organisms. Armed with latest scientific instruments like telescopes, mass spectrometers and lasers, they attempt to explain the mechanism of biological processes. For this purpose, they apply their knowledge of mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology. Their scientific study works to provide a clear idea about the functions of brain, heart and muscles in living creatures, the process of light absorption by plants and so on. Their job includes observing the effects of drugs and hormones on tissues, to study the evolutionary process of plants and animals to comprehend the nature of genetics and to conduct tests to identify diseases like genetic disorders. Biophysicists have crucial role in developing drugs for the treatment of diseases like cancer. Stem cell is an important area of their scientific study. The credit of developing alternative fuels goes to biophysicists. They also deal with various environmental problems like pollution. With their specialized knowledge, biophysicists work to detect the molecular basis of several life threatening diseases. Moreover, they work on advanced molecular biology techniques like DNA sequencing, mutagenesis and cloning. What follows is a collection of the biographies, timelines, trivia and other information about the professional and personal lives of some of the world’s most famous biophysicists.
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 1 
Jagadish Chandra Bose
6
Birthdate: November 30, 1858
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Bikrampur, Bengal Presidency, British India (Now Munshiganj District of Bangladesh)
Died: November 23, 1937

Indian physicist, biologist, and plant physiologist Jagadish Chandra Bose revolutionized science with his research on how plants and animals react to external stimuli. He founded the Bose Institute, made pioneering contribution to the field of radio and microwave optics, and also penned one of the first works of Bengali science fiction.

 2 
Rosalind Franklin
4
Birthdate: July 25, 1920
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Notting Hill, London, England
Died: April 16, 1958
Chemist and X-ray crystallographer Rosalind Franklin is remembered for her pathbreaking X-ray diffraction studies of DNA, which helped in the Nobel Prize-winning discovery of the double helix structure of DNA by Francis Crick, James Watson, and Maurice Wilkins later. She also worked on the molecular structures of viruses. 
 3 
Francis Crick
(Co-discoverer of the Structure of the DNA Molecule, Nobel Prize Winner)
Francis Crick
4
Birthdate: June 8, 1916
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Weston Favell, Northamptonshire, England
Died: July 28, 2004

Nobel Prize-winning British biophysicist Francis Crick is best known for his ground-breaking work to determine the structure of the DNA, along with James Watson, Maurice Wilkins, and Rosalind Franklin. He taught at various institutes, such as the Salk Institute, and was also awarded the Order of Merit.

 4 
Maurice Wilkins
(Biophysicist)
Maurice Wilkins
3
Birthdate: December 15, 1916
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Pongaroa, Wairarapa, New Zealand
Died: October 5, 2004

Born in New Zealand, to a doctor father from Dublin, Maurice grew up to be a Nobel Prize-winning biophysicist. His X-ray diffraction studies of DNA helped James D. Watson and Francis Crick, his fellow Nobel laureates, ascertain the DNA structure. He was also part of the Manhattan Project.

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 5 
Mária Telkes
(Biophysicist)
Mária Telkes
1
Birthdate: December 12, 1900
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: December 2, 1995
 6 
Joachim Frank
(Nobel Prize-Winning German-American Biophysicist Known for Developing Cryo-EM)
Joachim Frank
3
Birthdate: September 12, 1940
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Weidenau, Siegen, Germany

Nobel Prize-winning German-American biophysicist Joachim Frank is best known for developing single-particle cryo-electron microscopy, or cryo-EM. He has been associated with Columbia University as a professor for a long time and is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society. He has also helped ascertain the structure of ribosomes.

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 7 
Jacques Dubochet
(Biophysicist)
Jacques Dubochet
5
Birthdate: June 8, 1942
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Aigle, Switzerland
 8 
Peter Mansfield
(British Physicist Who Won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for Discoveries Concerning Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
Peter Mansfield
3
Birthdate: October 9, 1933
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Lambeth, London, England
Died: February 8, 2017
British physicist Peter Mansfield is remembered for his pathbreaking research on magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, along with chemist Paul Lauterbur, which won him and Lauterbur a Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. After a childhood marred by World War II, Mansfield’s first job had been related to rocketry.
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 9 
Walter Gilbert
(Biochemist, Physicist, Molecular Biologist)
Walter Gilbert
3
Birthdate: March 21, 1932
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

American molecular biologist and Nobel laureate Walter Gilbert pioneered research on the sequence of nucleotide links in DNA and RNA molecules. The Harvard and Cambridge alumnus later taught at Harvard. He also co-established firms dealing with genetic engineering and pharmaceutical research and was part of the Human Genome Project.

 10 
Max Delbrück
(Biophysicist)
Max Delbrück
2
Birthdate: September 4, 1906
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: March 9, 1981

Nobel Prize-winning biologist Max Delbrück is remembered for his pioneering research on bacteriophages, which are viruses that infect bacteria, as part of the Phage Group, along with Salvador Luria and Alfred Hershey. The German-born scientist was a Nazi refugee who later settled in the U.S.

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 11 
Martin Karplus
(Nobel Prize-Winning Austrian-American Theoretical Chemist)
Martin Karplus
3
Birthdate: March 15, 1930
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria

Nobel Prize-winning Austrian-American theoretical chemist Martin Karplus has been associated with Harvard University as a professor of chemistry. The Vienna-born scientist had escaped the Nazis to move to the US. Best known for developing multiscale models for complex chemical systems, he has also worked at Columbia University and the University of Strasbourg.

 12 
Archibald Hill
(British Physiologist and Winner of 1922 Nobel Prize in Physiology / Medicine)
Archibald Hill
2
Birthdate: September 26, 1886
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Bristol, England
Died: June 3, 1977

Nobel Prize-winning physiologist and biophysicist Archibald Hill is best remembered for his research on muscular heat production. The Cambridge alumnus also taught physiology at Manchester University and UCL, and was a research professor at the Royal Society. He was married to the sister of economist John Maynard Keynes.

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 13 
Thomas Gold
(American Astrophysicist and Professor Known for His ‘Steady-State Theory')
Thomas Gold
2
Birthdate: May 22, 1920
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: June 22, 2004

Austrian-born astrophysicist Thomas Gold is best-remembered for proposing the steady state theory of the universe and for his deep gas hypothesis through which he re-defined the abiogenic hypothesis and made it popular in the West. He served as professor of astronomy at Cornell University and remained a member of National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the Royal Society.

 14 
Sir Bernard Katz
(Biophysicist)
Sir Bernard Katz
2
Birthdate: March 26, 1911
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Leipzig, Germany
Died: April 20, 2003

Nobel Prize-winning German-born British physician Sir Bernard Katz is remembered for his research on nerves and muscles. The Carnegie fellowship winner had also been part of the Royal Australian Air Force during World War II. He was also knighted for his achievements and made a Fellow of the Royal Society.

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 15 
Bruce Alberts
(American Biochemist Best Known for Having Served as President of the National Academy of Sciences (1993 - 2005))
Bruce Alberts
2
Birthdate: April 14, 1938
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Bruce Alberts switched to biophysics at Harvard after getting bored with physical chemistry. He later led the NAS as its president and co-wrote iconic text books such as Molecular Biology of the Cell. Apart from teaching at Princeton and Harvard, he worked to improve science education in schools.

 16 
Arieh Warshel
(Israeli-American Biochemist and Biophysicist Known for His Work on Computational Biochemistry and Biophysics)
Arieh Warshel
2
Birthdate: November 20, 1940
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Kibbutz Sde-Nahum, Israel

Born in Israel, Arieh Warshel had been part of the Israeli Army before he moved to the U.S. for his PhD at Harvard University. His research on computational enzymology helped him create computer models of chemical reactions and earned him a Nobel Prize. He later established a computational biology institute.

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 17 
Georg von Békésy
(Hungarian researcher)
Georg von Békésy
2
Birthdate: June 3, 1899
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Budapest
Died: June 13, 1972

Nobel Prize-winning biophysicist Georg von Békésy revolutionized medical science with his discovery of how the cochlea, a part of the inner ear, affects sound reception. His initial research at the Hungarian Telephone System gave way to more intense studies at Harvard and the Karolinska Institute. He later taught at the University of Hawaii.

 18 
W.E. Moerner
(Nobel Prize-Winning American Chemist)
W.E. Moerner
2
Birthdate: June 24, 1953
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Pleasanton, California, United States

Nobel Prize-winning American chemist W.E. Moerner is best known for developing super-resolved fluorescence microscopy and for detecting a single molecule in condensed phases. He has been associated with prestigious institutes such as UC San Diego and Stanford University, and has also been a visiting professor at Harvard University.

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 19 
Erwin Neher
(Biophysicist)
Erwin Neher
2
Birthdate: March 20, 1944
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Landsberg am Lech, Bavaria, Germany
 20 
Alexander Rich
(American Biophysicist Who Discovered Z-DNA and Polysomes)
Alexander Rich
1
Birthdate: November 15, 1924
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Hartford, Connecticut, United States
Died: April 27, 2015

American biophysicist Alexander Rich, who taught at MIT and Harvard, is remembered for discovering polysomes and left-handed Z-DNA. He also founded the pharmaceutical company Alkermes and co-chaired the board of Repligen Corporation. He also won numerous honors, such as the National Medal of Science.

 21 
Britton Chance
(American Biochemist and Olympic Gold-Winning Sailor)
Britton Chance
1
Birthdate: July 24, 1913
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
Died: November 16, 2010

American biochemist and biophysicist Britton Chance is remembered for developing techniques such as MRI and optical imaging. He also taught at the University of Pennsylvania and worked with Swedish Nobel laureate Hugo Theorell at the Nobel Institute. He was also an Olympic gold medal-winning sailor.

 22 
Alan Lloyd Hodgkin
(English Physiologist and Biophysicist, Winner of the 1963 Nobel Prize in Medicine)
Alan Lloyd Hodgkin
1
Birthdate: February 5, 1914
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Banbury, Oxfordshire, England
Died: December 20, 1998

Nobel Prize-winning biophysicist Alan Lloyd Hodgkin is remembered for his research on the chemical processes related to nerve impulses. As a child, he was also interested in ornithology. He also taught at Cambridge and was a research professor at the Royal Society. He was knighted for his achievements.

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 23 
Franco Malerba
(Astronaut)
Franco Malerba
1
Birthdate: October 10, 1946
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Busalla, Italy
 24 
Richard Henderson
(Molecular biologist)
Richard Henderson
0
Birthdate: July 19, 1945
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
 25 
Bei Shizhang
(Politician)
Bei Shizhang
1
Birthdate: October 10, 1903
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Zhenhai District, Ningbo, China
Died: October 29, 2009
 26 
Jerome Wolken
(American Biophysicist Who Developed a Lens to Help Cataract Patients See Better)
Jerome Wolken
0
Birthdate: March 28, 1917
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: May 10, 1999

American biophysicist Jerome Wolken developed a type of lens based on his study of deep-sea creatures, thus helping cataract patients get access to better vision. His lenses also helped photographers and astronomers. He was also associated with Carnegie Mellon University and had penned over a 100 articles.

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 27 
Toyoichi Tanaka
(Japanese Scientist Best Remembered for His Discovery of Smart Gels)
Toyoichi Tanaka
0
Birthdate: January 4, 1946
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Nagaoka, Japan
Died: May 20, 2000

Toyoichi Tanaka was a Japanese scientist best remembered for his discovery of smart gels, a class of materials that contract or expand when triggered by changes in light, temperature, or other stimulus. Toyoichi Tanaka is also remembered for his association with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he worked as a professor of Physics.