- John Cairns (biochemist)
(Hugh) John Cairns FRS (1922- ) is a British physician and molecular biologist who made significant contributions to
molecular genetics, cancer research, and public health.
Cairns received his M.D. from
Oxford. He then worked as a virologist at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Researchin Melbourne, Australiaand at the Virus Research Institute at Entebbe, Kenya. He returned to Australia to work at in the School of Microbiology at the John Curtin School of Medical Research. Cairns took a sabbatical to research at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratorybetween 1960 and 1961, and returned there to serve as the director from 1963 to 1968. He remained a staff member at Cold Spring Harbor until 1972, when he was appointed head of the Mill HillLaboratory of the Imperial Cancer Research Fundin Oxford. After he was appointed at Mill Hill he also worked at the Harvard School of Public Health. He retired in 1991.
In his 1963 paper "The bacterial chromosome and its manner of replication as seen by autoradiography", Cairns demonstrated by
autoradiographythat the DNAof the bacterium" Escherichia coli" was a single molecule that is replicated at a moving locus (the replicating fork) at which both new DNA strands are being synthesized. Subsequently, it was found that there were in fact two moving forks, traveling simultaneously in opposite directions around the chromosome.
In 1981, John Cairns received a
MacArthur Foundation("genius") Fellowship. He is the author of the 1978 book "Cancer: Science and Society" (now out of print) and the 1997 book, "Matters of Life and Death: Perspectives on Public Health, Molecular Biology, Cancer, and the Prospects for the Human Race". Together with James Watson and Gunther Stent, Cairns also edited the collection of historical accounts "Phage and the Origins of Molecular Biology."
* [http://oralhistory.cshl.edu/mainMovie.html Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Oral History Collection] , John Cairns
* [http://www.garfield.library.upenn.edu/classics1980/A1980JY54900001.pdf#search=%22John%20Cairns%20DNA%22 A description of the 1963 paper]
* [http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/99/16/10567 2002 paper on Immortal DNA strand hypothesis (theory)]
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