Michael Rossmann

May – August 2019

Michael G. Rossmann (1930-2019):  A Giant of Structural Biology
May 14th, 2019 marked the date of a personal loss and also the loss for the scientific community of macromolecular crystallographers and structural biologists at large. After a long battle with cancer, Michael G. Rossmann (1930-2019), my dear mentor of my postdoc years at Purdue University, left all of us. Michael was and has been a towering figure in the field from his pioneering days in Cambridge, UK, when the first proteins structures (myoglobin and hemoglobin in the 1960’s) were unveiled for the first time for the contemplation by human eyes.

He appeared to be ‘invincible’ in spirit, achieving structural milestones well into his 80s and running his laboratory at Purdue without signs of ever slowing down. He was a beacon of admiration for his scientific achievements and for his deep humanity, having trained scientists young and old from all over the world.Tributes have been written by the community of students, postdocs and collaborators who had the fortune of working with him from his early days at Purdue University, beginning in 1964. My colleague and friend Ignacio Fita from Barcelona and I, wrote a brief tribute to Michael with some details of his personal life and his connection to the structural biologists in Spain, published in the bulletin of the Spanish Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (SEBBM).Most recently, I also published another tribute to Michael Rossmann in the Magazine of the Spanish Biophysical Society (SBE), where I compared the scientific achievements of Michael to the epoch-making discoveries of other famous physicist, Francis H. Crick, of well-known DNA fame. For a full perspective of who Michael Rossmann was and for a better appreciation of his contributions to structural biology, I encourage the readers to browse and read the above references.

Michael, you will always be in our memories. We truly stand ‘on the shoulders of giants’.