Murdoch Mitchison

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The Honounorable John Murdoch Mitchison FRS, FRSE (11 June 1922, Oxford – 17 March 2011, Edinburgh) was a British zoologist.

Murdoch Mitchison portrait by the Godfrey Argent Studio



Mitchison was the son of the Labour politician Dick Mitchison and his wife, the writer Naomi (née Haldane).[1][2] The biologist J.B.S. Haldane was his uncle, and the physiologist John Scott Haldane was his maternal grandfather. His elder brother is the bacteriologist Denis Mitchison, and his younger brother is the zoologist Avrion Mitchison. His wife was the historian Rosalind Mitchison.[3]


Mitchison went to Winchester College and Trinity College, Cambridge, later becoming Professor of Zoology at Edinburgh University in 1963 after working there for a decade.[4] He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1978.[5]


Considered a pioneer in the area of cellular biology, Mitchison developed the yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe as a model system to study the mechanisms and kinetics of growth and the cell cycle.[6][7][8][9] He was an academic advisor to the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physiology recipient Paul Nurse.[10]


  1. ^ Alison Shaw (26 March 2011). "Obituary: Professor Murdoch Mitchison ScD, FRS, FRSE, zoologist and biologist". The Scotsman. Retrieved 2011-04-06. 
  2. ^ "Science Obituaries: Professor Murdoch Mitchison". The Telegraph. 5 April 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-06. 
  3. ^ Dalyell, Tam (21 September 2002). "Professor Rosalind Mitchison". The Independent. Retrieved 2011-01-09. 
  4. ^ "Contributors". New Scientist. 329: 540. 7 March 1963. 
  5. ^ "The Society's Notes". Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London. 33 (1): 117–22. 1978. JSTOR 531680. doi:10.1098/rsnr.1978.0008.  (subscription required)
  6. ^ Hardie, D Grahame (2007). "Recollections: How I became a biochemist". IUBMB Life. 59 (12): 793–96. PMID 18085479. doi:10.1080/15216540701556873. 
  7. ^ Linder, Patrick; Hall, Michael N. (1993). The Early Days of Yeast Genetics. Plainview, New York: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press. ISBN 0-87969-378-9. 
  8. ^ Egel, Richard. "Fission yeast as model organism". Department of Biology - University of Copenhagen. Retrieved 2011-01-09. 
  9. ^ Fantes PA; Hoffman CS (2016). "A Brief History of Schizosaccharomyces pombe Research: A Perspective Over the Past 70 Years.". Genetics. 203 (2): 621–9. PMID 27270696. doi:10.1534/genetics.116.189407. 
  10. ^ "Sir Paul Nurse - Autobiography". 9 January 2011. Retrieved 2011-01-09.