Ian R. Gibbons

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Ian Read Gibbons[1]

Ian R. Gibbons.jpg
Born(1931-10-30)30 October 1931[2]
Died30 January 2018(2018-01-30) (aged 86)[1]
Nationality United Kingdom
Alma materUniversity of Pennsylvania
King's College, Cambridge
Known forResearch in dynein
Spouse(s)Barbara Gibbons (1961 to 2013)
AwardsShaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine (2017)
International Prize for Biology (1995)
E.B. Wilson Medal (1994)
Scientific career
Cell biology
InstitutionsUniversity of California, Berkeley
University of Hawaii at Manoa
Harvard University
Doctoral advisorJohn Bradfield[4]

Ian Read Gibbons, FRS (30 October 1931 - 30 January 2018) was a biophysicist and cell biologist[5]. He discovered and named dynein, and demonstrated energy source as ATP is sufficient for dynein to walk on microtubules. In 2017, he and Ronald Vale received the Shaw Prize for their research on microtubule motor proteins[6].

Early life and education[edit]

Gibbons's passion for science stems from his interest in radio. He entered Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School in Faversham in 1943, where he developed an interest towards applied physics. Following 18 months in the Royal Air Force as a radar engineer, he was admitted into King's College at the University of Cambridge in 1951 to read physics[7]. He graduated with a bachelor's degree and then, in 1957, a PhD degree from Cambridge. His PhD research concerns using electron microscopes to study the organisation of chromosomes during mitosis and meiosis. Gibbons then went to the University of Pennsylvania as a postdoctoral researcher, where he stayed for 1 year. He subsequently moved to the Department of Biology, Harvard University, to take up the post of director of the newly founded electron microscopy laboratory[4][3].

Academic and research career[edit]

While at Harvard, Gibbons studied the structure of cilia and flagella of a protozoan called Tetrahymena with electron microscopes. In 1963, he discovered a novel protein on microtubules and published its pictures[8]. Two years later, he purified two regions of the protein, known as its two "arms", naming the protein "dynein"[9]. During his last year at Harvard, Gibbons demonstrated the protein making up microtubules was distinct from actin, in that the former was associated with guanine nucleotides while the latter with adenine nucleotides [10], but refrained from naming it; Hideo Mohri from the University of Tokyo named it tubulin afterwards[4].

Gibbons moved to the Kewalo Marine Laboratory, University of Hawaii at Manoa, in 1967 as an associate professor. He found the cilia of sea urchin sperms easier to work with than the cilia and flagella of Tetrahymena. In 1969, he was promoted to professor of biophysics[3][11]. Throughout the 1970s, Gibbons and his wife Barbara showed the sliding of microtubules caused cilia motility (known as the sliding tubule mechanism), and that this sliding was dependent on the energy generated from ATP hydrolysis by ATPase. When microtubules visibly slid out of the ends of the flagellar fiber, the flagella disintegrated[12]. He then extended the mechanism to mammals, confirming the motility mechanism of bull sperm cilia is the same as that for sea urchins[13]. After these findings, Gibbons switched his focus to the molecular biology of dyneins, and determined the DNA sequence of the largest subunit of dynein in 1991[14]. In 1993, he became the director of the Kewalo Marine Laboratory[3].

Ian and Barbara Gibbons retired from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 1997; he went to the University of California, Berkeley as a research scientist in the laboratory of Beth Burnside. In 2009, Burnside closed her laboratory, and Gibbons became a visiting researcher[3][11].

Honours and awards[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Gibbons met his wife Barbara while in Harvard University; they married in 1961[4]. Barbara died in 2013 at age 81[19]. Gibbons also died in 2018[1].


  1. ^ a b c d Sanders, Robert (2018-02-14). "Sunday (Feb. 18) memorial service for prize-winning biologist Ian Gibbons". Berkeley News. Retrieved 2018-10-22.
  2. ^ a b Gibbons, Ian R. (2017-09-26). "Autobiography of Ian R Gibbons". Shaw Prize Foundation. Retrieved 2018-10-22.
  3. ^ a b c d e Sanders, Robert (2017-05-25). "Ian Gibbons awarded Shaw Prize for discovery of molecular motors". Berkeley News. Retrieved 2018-10-28.
  4. ^ a b c d Gibbons, Ian R. (2017-11-22). "Discovery of dynein and its properties: A personal account". In King, Steven M. (ed.). Dyneins: The Biology of Dynein Motors (2nd ed.). Academic Press. pp. 3–87. ISBN 978-0-12-809471-6.
  5. ^ Gibbons, Wendy E.; Vale, Ronald D.; Sale, Winfield S. (2019). "Ian Read Gibbons. 30 October 1931—30 January 2018". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 66.
  6. ^ a b "Announcement of The Shaw Laureates 2017" (Press release). Shaw Prize Foundation. 2018-06-17. Retrieved 2018-10-24.
  7. ^ "Autobiography of Ian R Gibbons". Shaw Prize Foundation. 2017-06-27. Retrieved 2018-10-25.
  8. ^ Gibbons, Ian R. (1963-09-18). "Studies on the protein components from cilia of Tetrahymena pyriformis". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 50 (5): 1002–1010. doi:10.1073/pnas.50.5.1002. PMC 221963. PMID 14082342.
  9. ^ Gibbons, Ian R.; Rowe, Arthur J. (1965-07-23). "Dynein: a protein with adenosine triphosphatase activity from cilia". Science. 149 (3582): 424–426. doi:10.1126/science.149.3682.424. PMID 17809406.
  10. ^ Stephens, Ray E.; Renaud, Fernando L.; Gibbons, Ian R. (1967-06-23). "Guanine nucleotide associated with the protein of the outer fibers of flagella and cilia". Science. 156 (3782): 1606–1608. doi:10.1126/science.156.3782.1606. PMID 6067301.
  11. ^ a b "Biographical Notes of Laureates". Shaw Prize Foundation. Retrieved 2018-10-31.
  12. ^ Gibbons, Ian R.; Fronk, Earl (1972-08-01). "Some properties of bound and soluble dynein from sea urchin sperm flagella". Journal of Cell Biology. 54 (2): 365–381. doi:10.1083/jcb.54.2.365. PMC 2108873. PMID 4261148.
  13. ^ Lindemann, Charles B.; Gibbons, Ian R. (1975-04-01). "Adenosine triphosphate-induced motility and sliding of filaments in mammalian sperm extracted with Triton X-100". Journal of Cell Biology. 65 (1): 142-7–162. doi:10.1083/jcb.65.1.147. PMID 236318.
  14. ^ Gibbons, Ian R.; Asai, David, J.; Ching, Nathan S.; Dolecki, Gregory J.; Mocz, Gabor; Phillipson, Cheryl A.; Ren, Hening; Tang, Wen-jing Y.; Gibbons, Barbara H. (1991-10-01). "A PCR procedure to determine the sequence of large polypeptides by rapid walking through a cDNA library". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 88 (19): 8563–8567. doi:10.1073/pnas.88.19.8563. PMID 1833761.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  15. ^ "International Prize for Biology Past Recipients/Presentation Ceremony". Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. Retrieved 2018-10-31.
  16. ^ "E.B. Wilson Medal". American Society for Cell Biology. Retrieved 2018-10-31.
  17. ^ "Ian Gibbons". Royal Society. Retrieved 2018-10-31.
  18. ^ "Ian R. Gibbons". John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  19. ^ Fleischman, John (2013-07-23). "In Memoriam – Barbara Hollingworth Gibbons". American Society for Cell Biology Post. Retrieved 2018-10-31.