King's College London
Online Exhibitions
The pioneering work of Professor Jean Hanson, 1919-1973

Why was the research important?

Portrait photograph of Jean Hanson at about 33 years of ageJean Hanson, Sep 1952 The possibility of observing muscle fibres in various stages of contraction provided a unique opportunity to gain an insight into the structure and function of proteins.

The work of Hanson and her colleagues, particularly in discovering the structure of actin, indirectly opened the way to a deeper understanding of the role of proteins in the human body.

Furthermore, by discovering how muscles work at the cellular level, Hanson's work has allowed injuries and degenerative diseases such as muscular dystrophy to be treated with greater success.

As with the research undertaken into the structure of DNA, Hanson's muscle research also led to spin-off benefits through the development of new microscopy and staining techniques and the combination of biology, physics and biochemistry in X-ray diffraction experiments.

The King's DNA and muscle researches were among the earliest biochemical investigations of biological molecules using physical techniques and set the pace for later discoveries.

Modern genetics and the prospect of the targeted treatment of diseases such as cancer has been made possible by the vital basic science pioneered by the post-war Biophysics Unit.

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