William F. Harrington

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

William F. Harrington (1920 – 1992) was an American biochemist known for his work on the structure and function of myosins and collagen.

Early life and education[edit]

William Fields Harrington was born in Seattle on September 25th, 1920.[1][2] As a young man, Harrington worked at a Seattle aircraft manufacturing plant, then served in the US Marine Corps during World War II.[3] After the war, Harrington enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley where he earned his BS degree, followed by a PhD in the laboratory of Howard Schachman, where he studied the structure of tobacco mosaic virus.[1][4] While at Berkeley, he met Austrian-born musician Ingeborg Leuschner; the couple married in 1948.[5] After his PhD, Harrington moved on to successive postdoctoral researcher positions: first a year at Cambridge University, then in hte laboratory of Kai Linderstrom-Lang at the Carlsberg Laboratory.[1]

Academic career[edit]

In 1955, Harrington joined the faculty of Iowa State College as an assistant professor of biophysical chemistry.[2] After just a year, Harrington left Iowa to join Christian Anfinsen's laboratory at the National Institutes of Health.[4] There he began his work on fibrous proteins: first collagen, then myosins.[4] In 1960, he moved to Johns Hopkins University as professor at the Department of Biology and the University's McCollum-Pratt Institute.[2] He served as that department's chairman from 1973 to 1983.[4] Harrington was elected to the US National Academy of Sciences in 1976.[2]

Harrington was known for his work on myosins and collagen. His work on myosins helped elucidate how chemical energy in the body is converted the mechanical process of muscle contraction.[1]

Over his career, Harrington authored or co-authored over 125 scientific journal articles.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Harrington and his wife had a daughter and four sons.[1] Harrington died of heart failure at his home on October 31st, 1992.[2][1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Wolfgang Saxon (4 November 1992). "William Harrington, Who Made Gains in Biochemistry, Dies at 72". New York Times. p. 25. Retrieved 4 January 2023.
  2. ^ a b c d e "William Harrington". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 4 January 2023.
  3. ^ "Dr. W. F. Harrington, Hopkins Professor". The Baltimore Sun. 2 November 1992. Retrieved 4 January 2023.
  4. ^ Frederick N. Rasmussen (25 August 2014). "Ingeborg F. Harrington, Homemaker". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 4 January 2023.