Alexander Rich

Alexander Rich photo
  • 1980-1981
Alexander Rich
Spring 1981
Topics in Molecular Biology

Alexander Rich was a biophysicist and “pre-eminent researcher in structural molecular biology—a field that seeks to understand the molecular architecture of living organisms—[who] made major contributions to understanding the relationships between the structures and functions of RNA and DNA molecules.

James Watson and Francis Crick first described the right-handed, double helical structure of DNA in 1953. In 1979, Rich led a team of MIT researchers who startled the world of structural biology with the announcement that they had found a ‘left-handed’ form of DNA. The new form, coiled in the shape of a left-handed screw, was called Z-DNA because of its zigzag backbone, but its significance remained a mystery for many years.” — Anne Trafton
Full text at MIT News

Obituary in The Boston Globe

Memorial Resolution by the MIT Faculty

Read the 1980 citation by the Killian Award Selection Committee