Cyril Angus Appleby

By Helen Wolff January 29th, 2020

Early life

Cyril Angus Appleby was born on 6 July 1928 at Victor Harbor, South Australia, Australia. After completing his schooling at Victor Harbor High School, Appleby received a State Government scholarship in 1945 to study at Adelaide High School and sit for the Leaving Honours Certificate. In 1946 he was awarded a Commonwealth Government scholarship which led him to study Science at the University of Adelaide.

Tertiary education and early career

Appleby went on to obtain a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Biochemistry from the University of Adelaide in 1950. After briefly working as a biochemistry demonstrator and medical laboratory technician, Appleby obtained at PhD at the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Melbourne for a thesis entitled The Cytochrome-linked Dehydrogenase Systems of Yeasts and Higher Plants. His PhD research achievements included the first-ever crystallisation of a complex cytochrome.

Time at CSIRO

In 1956 Appleby became a Research Scientist in the Biochemistry Section of the Division of Plant Industry at CSIRO, Canberra. There he researched the structure, genetic origin and biological function of plant-kingdom and microbial haemoglobins and cytochromes, particularly within the nitrogen-fixing symbioses of legume and non-legume plants. His pioneer work demonstrated that haemoglobins were present throughout the plant kingdom and that plant and animal haemoglobin had a common genetic origin.

Whilst at CSIRO, Appleby fostered several international partnerships with overseas laboratories. In 1959 he travelled to Boston as a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow at Brandeis University. In 1971 and many times later he worked at the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York. Other international laboratory visits included the Institute of Organic Chemistry at the Bulgarian Academy of Science, Sofia (1978 and 1988); the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research and the Department of Chemistry at the University of Alberta (1983); Kings College, London and University College, Cardiff (1983); the Scripps Institute of Molecular Biology (1984 and 1986); the Department of Biochemistry of Cornell University (1984 and 1986); Carlsberg Laboratory, Copenhagen (1987); Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (E.T.H.), Zurich (1989).

Appleby was awarded the LKB Medal of the Australian Biochemical Society in 1979.

He retired from CSIRO as Chief Research Scientist in November 1988 after which he continued as an Honorary CSIRO Research Fellow.

Honours and awards

1957 Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) completed at the University of Melbourne
1979 Award – LKB Medal and Travelling Lecturer for the Australian Biochemical Society
1984 Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science


Australian Academy of Science (2011) Dr Cyril Appleby, plant biologist

Further reading