Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958)

Who do you think of when you think of DNA? Watson? Crick? How about Franklin?

Rosalind Franklin was, for too long, the overshadowed party in Watson and Crick's story of how they unraveled the structure of DNA. Franklin took the X-ray diffraction images of DNA that indicated its twisted, double-helical structure; without her precise lab work, attention to detail and thoughtful analysis, those X-ray images wouldn't have been worth a penny.

What's more, without those images Watson and Crick would not have been able to publish their notable 1953 paper on the structure of DNA. Those images, leaked to Watson and Crick by Franklin's lab partner, made the difference in the discovery...but not in the recognition.

In 1962, Watson and Crick won the Nobel Prize for their work on the structure of DNA; by then, Franklin had been dead for four years, a victim of ovarian cancer.

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