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Hanson, (Emmeline) Jean

muscle microscopy sliding theory

(1919–73) British biophysicist: co-deviser of sliding-filament theory of muscle contraction.

As a zoologist who became a biophysicist, Jean Hanson first became interested in how muscle contracts during the 1940s when she was a research student in London, studying the blood vessels of annelids. Thereafter she spent her career with the Medical Research Council Biophysics Unit there, except for a fruitful period at MIT in the 1950s. Her skill in classical microscopy led her to phase contrast microscopy and then to electron microscopy in its early days, and she applied all three methods to the study of muscle. With her results led to the sliding-filament theory of muscle contraction, first applied by them to striated muscle. This is made up of fibres, which are built up of myosin filaments and more slender actin filaments, and the theory was essentially that contraction is due to an interdigitated sliding motion of these which shortens the fibre. In the late 1950s Jean Hanson went on to show that in the smooth muscle of invertebrates a similar mechanism operated. She was elected to fellowship of the Royal Society in 1967.

Happily Ever After [next] [back] Hanoch, Shalom (1946–) - PERSONAL HISTORY, BIOGRAPHICAL HIGHLIGHTS, PERSONAL CHRONOLOGY:, INFLUENCES AND CONTRIBUTIONS, CONTEMPORARIES, Tel Aviv Music Scene, 1967–1973

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