Max Ferdinand Perutz was born in Vienna in 1914. In 1936, he became a research student at the Cavendish Laboratory in a crystallography group directed by J. Bernal, and remained in Cambridge subsequently.
During World War II, he was asked to think of a way to improve the structural qualities of ice for Project Habbakuk and invented the mixture of ice and woodpulp known as pykrete.
In 1953, Perutz showed that the diffracted rays from protein crystals could be phased by comparing the patterns from crystals of the protein with and without heavy atoms attached. In 1959, he determined the molecular structure of the protein hemoglobin, which transports oxygen in the blood, using this method. In 1962, he received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, with John Kendrew.
He established the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, England.in 1962, and was chairman until 1979. He remained active in research to the end of his life.
His son is a professor in chemistry at The University of York in England.