Alexander Rich

Alexander Rich
Born (1924-11-15)November 15, 1924
Hartford, Connecticut, USA
Died April 27, 2015(2015-04-27) (aged 90)
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Residence Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
Nationality USA
Fields Biophysics
Institutions Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Alma mater Harvard University, USA
Known for discoverer of polysomes and Z-DNA
Influences Francis Crick[1]
Notable awards

Alexander Rich (November 15, 1924 April 27, 2015) was an American biologist and biophysicist. He was the William Thompson Sedgwick Professor of Biophysics at MIT (since 1958) and Harvard Medical School. Dr. Rich earned both an A.B. (magna cum laude) and an M.D. (cum laude) from Harvard University. He was a post-doc of Linus Pauling along with James Watson. During this time he was a member of the RNA Tie Club, a social and discussion group which attacked the question of how DNA encodes proteins. He had over 600 publications to his name.[2]

Rich was married to Jane King and is survived by four children: Benjamin, Josiah, Rebecca, and Jessica Rich Sturley.[3]

Born in Hartford, Connecticut,[4] Rich was the founder of Alkermes and was a director beginning in 1987. Dr. Rich was Co-Chairman of the Board of Directors of Repligen Corporation, a biopharmaceutical company. He was also a member of the Board of Directors for Profectus BioSciences, Inc. He also served on the editorial board of Genomics and the Journal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics.

In 1963, Rich discovered polysomes: clusters of ribosomes which read one strand of mRNA simultaneously.[5]

In 1979, Rich and co-workers at MIT grew a crystal of Z-DNA.[6] This was the first crystal structure of any form of DNA. After 26 years of attempts, Rich et al. finally crystallised the junction box of B- and Z-DNA. Their results were published in an October 2005 Nature journal.[7] Whenever Z-DNA forms, there must be two junction boxes that allow the flip back to the canonical B-form of DNA. Rich died on April 27, 2015, aged 90.[8]

List of awards and prizes received

Awards and prizes



  1. Rich, A.; Stevens, C. F. (2004). "Obituary: Linus Pauling Francis Crick (1916–2004)". Nature. 430 (7002): 845–847. Bibcode:2004Natur.430..845R. doi:10.1038/430845a. PMID 15318208.
  2. Schimmel, Paul (2015). "Alexander Rich (1924–2015) Biologist who discovered ribosome clusters and 'left-handed' DNA.". Nature. 521 (7552): 291–291. Bibcode:2015Natur.521..291S. doi:10.1038/521291a. ISSN 0028-0836. PMID 25993953.
  4. 1 2
  5. Warner JR, Knopf PM, Rich A (1963). "A MULTIPLE RIBOSOMAL STRUCTURE IN PROTEIN SYNTHESIS". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 49 (1): 122–129. Bibcode:1963PNAS...49..122W. doi:10.1073/pnas.49.1.122. PMC 300639Freely accessible. PMID 13998950.
  6. Wang AH, Quigley GJ, Kolpak FJ, Crawford JL, van Boom JH, Van der Marel G, Rich A (1979). "Molecular structure of a left-handed double helical DNA fragment at atomic resolution". Nature. 282 (5740): 680–686. Bibcode:1979Natur.282..680W. doi:10.1038/282680a0. PMID 514347.
  7. Ha SC, Lowenhaupt K, Rich A, Kim YG, Kim KK (2005). "Crystal structure of a junction between B-DNA and Z-DNA reveals two extruded bases". Nature. 437 (7062): 1183–1186. Bibcode:2005Natur.437.1183H. doi:10.1038/nature04088. PMID 16237447.
  8. Trafton A (2015). "Alexander Rich dies at 90".
  9. "2008 Welch Award in Chemistry Recipient". The Welch Foundation.

Selected publications

External links

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