Further papers of Professor William Thomas Astbury

Scope and Content

Comprises miscellaneous research papers, offprints, and personal papers

Administrative / Biographical History

William Thomas Astbury was born at Longton, Stoke-on-Trent and educated at Longton High School and Jesus College, Cambridge, 1917, 1919-1921. He became a Demonstrator in Physics at University College, London, and worked there as assistant to Sir William Bragg, 1921-1923, and at the Royal Institution, London, 1923-1928. In 1922 he married Frances Gould. He was appointed Lecturer, 1928-1937, and then Reader, 1937-1945, in Textile Physics at Leeds University, where he became the first Professor of Biomolecular Structure at Leeds, 1945-1961. His work, mainly supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, was primarily on the structure of biological tissues and proteins, using X-ray diffraction analysis and electron microscopy. At one time Astbury's laboratory at Leeds was at the forefront of electron microscopy studies in Britain, and he was credited with the invention of the term 'molecular biology'. Astbury served on the editorial boards of many journals (including, from its inception, 'Biochimica et Biophysica Acta') and was a founder member of the Electron Microscopy Group of the Institute of Physics. He was a consultant to several industrial firms, such as British Celanese, Courtaulds and Imperial Chemical Industries. He was elected FRS in 1940 (Croonian Lecture 1945).

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