David Blow (1931 – 2004)

Sadly, David Blow died on 8th June 2004, aged 72, having survived nearly a year with cancer.

David first joined Max Perutz as a Ph.D. student at the MRC Unit in the Cavendish in 1954 and determined the first phases of the non-centrosymmetric projection structure of horse haemoglobin using the method of isomorphous replacement. His paper on the treatment of errors in the isomorphous replacement method with Francis Crick in 1959 provided a rigorous foundation for protein crystallography. He went on to publish a series of now classic papers with Michael Rossmann in the early 1960s which describe the theory of the molecular replacement method. With Brian Matthews, Paul Sigler and an enthusiastic team, he worked out the crystal structure of the enzyme chymotrypsin, which was the first serine protease structure to be determined, in 1967, and one of the first few protein structures solved. He went on to solve the structure of many other enzymes and enzyme complexes first at LMB and later at Imperial College, where he had moved in 1977 to set up the Biophysics Group in the Physics Department. At LMB and Imperial, he had many Ph.D. students who universally found him to be generous, modest, kind and fair. His superb book “An Outline of Crystallography for Biologists” was published about 18 months before he died, displaying his long experience and many contributions to the field. He retired in 1994 from Imperial College to live in Appledore, Devon, with his wife Mavis where he played a leading part in many local issues.

A number of obituaries of David appeared in the months after he died. Some of these are listed below, with links to the articles where available.