J. Murray Luck, president of the American Society of Biological Chemists in 1955, was born in Paris, Ontario, Canada. After completing high school, he was awarded a 4-year scholarship to the University of Toronto and graduated in 1922. Another scholarship provided for several years of graduate work in biochemistry at Cambridge University in England, where he studied biochemistry in the laboratories of Sir Gowland Hopkins and John B. S. Haldane. Luck earned his Ph.D. in 1925 with a thesis titled "The Origin of Blood Ammonia." He returned to the University of Toronto for a year as a demonstrator in biochemistry before joining the faculty of Stanford University in 1926. He remained an active member of the Chemistry Department until his mandatory retirement in 1965. However, he continued to do research at Stanford as professor emeritus of chemistry until his death in 1993. Luck's specialty was in the role of proteins in carcinogenesis. He was also a world authority on histones.
Luck is probably best known for his work with the Annual Reviews.He launched the Annual Reviews of Biochemistry in 1932 and founded Annual Reviews Inc., a nonprofit enterprise devoted to the advancement of science through the publication of critical reviews and analyses of the rapidly expanding volume of scientific research literature. Luck served as editor-in-chief and secretary-treasurer of Annual Reviews Inc., from 1939 to 1969 and then was on the board of directors. In 1976, at the age of 76, he founded The Society for the Promotion of Science and Scholarship, a nonprofit corporation for scholarly publishing, with special interests in British and European studies. Luck served as a science attaché to the U.S. Embassy in Switzerland and became a leading English-language historian of Switzerland and the author of three books on the country.