Gilbert Smithson Adair

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Gilbert Smithson Adair
Born 1896
Died 1979[1]
Nationality United Kingdom
Alma mater King's College, Cambridge
Known for showing that hemoglobin is a tetramer
Awards Fellow of the Royal Society[2]
Scientific career
Fields proteins

Gilbert Smithson Adair FRS[2] (1896–1979) was an early protein scientist who used osmotic pressure measurements to establish that haemoglobin was a tetramer under physiological conditions. This conclusion led him to be the first to identify cooperative binding, in the context of oxygen binding to haemoglobin.

Personal life[edit]

Adair was born on 21 September 1896 [1] in Whitehaven, England and was educated (1910-1915) at Bootham School,[3][4] York. Entering King's College, Cambridge in 1915, he graduated with a first class degree in natural sciences in 1917. During the war, he worked on the Food Investigation Board, which sought methods for preserving food on cargo ships. In 1920, he became a research student at King's College, and was made an official Fellow in 1928, granting him five years to devote to research. In 1931, he became assistant director of the Physiological Laboratory in Cambridge. He was a Reader in Biophysics from 1945 until his retirement in 1963. Adair was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1939.

As an incidental historical note, Adair provided the purified haemoglobin that Max Perutz used for the first structure determination of any protein (by X-ray crystallography).


  1. ^ a b Register of Deaths Q2 1979 (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b Johnson, P.; Perutz, M. F. (1981). "Gilbert Smithson Adair. 21 September 1896 – 22 June 1979". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 27: 1. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1981.0001. JSTOR 769863. 
  3. ^ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  4. ^ Bootham School Register. York, England: Bootham Old Scholars Association. 2011. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Edsall, J. T. (1992). "Memories of early days in protein science, 1926-1940". Protein Science. 1 (11): 1526–1530. doi:10.1002/pro.5560011114. PMC 2142119Freely accessible. PMID 1303771. 
  • Simoni RD, Hill RL, Vaughan M. (2002) "The Structure and Function of Haemoglobin: Gilbert Smithson Adair and the Adair Equations", J. Biol. Chem., 277, e20.
  • Adair, G. S. (1925). "A Critical Study of the Direct Method of Measuring the Osmotic Pressure of Haemoglobin". Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 98 (692): 523. doi:10.1098/rspb.1925.0054. 
  • Adair GS. (1925) "The Hemoglobin System. VI. The Oxygen Dissociation Curve of Hemoglobin", J. Biol. Chem., 63, 529-545.