UCL Institute of Ophthalmology


UCL IoO Alumna dies aged 98

21 March 2023

We are sad to hear of the passing of Olga Kennard, crystallographer and member of the scientific staff at our institute in 1948.

In 1948 Olga Kennard moved to London from Cambridge and joined the scientific staff of the Medical Research Council (MRC), first at our institute and then at the National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) in Mill Hill.

Working in a Cambridge University department before that, Kennard established the Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre (CCDC) in 1965. At the same time she set up the Cambridge Structural Database (CSD), taking on the task of converting the 3,000 or so known X-ray structures of small organic molecules into machine-readable form.

One of very few women in physics at Cambridge, after taking a two-year degree she began work in 1944 as a research assistant with Max Perutz in the Cavendish Laboratory. Perutz was a chemist who was using X-ray crystallography to study the structure of haemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen in red blood cells. As well as assisting him with this project, still far from completion, Kennard solved the structure of a small organic molecule.