A worldwide authority in the chemistry of histones, James Murray Luck published more than 200 research papers in protein chemistry and taught biochemistry to generations of chemistry and medical students during his nearly 40-year tenure at Stanford University. He founded the non-profit Annual Reviews, starting as founder and editor of the journal Annual Reviews in Biochemistry. Annual Reviews grew to produce a family of journals spanning tens of scientific fields. Professor Murray also took a lifelong interest in nutrition leading to a 1946 book, The War on Malnutrition and Poverty: The Role of the Consumer Cooperatives.
Born the son of a blacksmith in Paris, Ontario, Canada in 1899, Professor Luck studied on a four-year tuition scholarship at the University of Toronto (BS 1922). He was awarded an “1851 Exhibition Scholarship” for graduate study. He chose to study biochemistry at Cambridge University (PhD 1925), where he performed thesis research on the origin of blood ammonia with Professors Sir Gowland Hopkins and J.B.S. Haldane. In 1926 he accepted a position as assistant professor at Stanford, with teaching responsibilities in biochemistry. He rose to associate professor in 1934 and full professor in 1941. He retired to emeritus status in 1965. He was in 1962 appointed Scientific Attaché to the U.S. Embassy in Bern, Switzerland by the State Department. He continued this work after his retirement from Stanford, and published three books on the history and scientific activities of Switzerland.