Did You Know Rosalind Franklin Produced the First Clear X-ray Images of Crystallized DNA?

By Shaun Richard McCann

Did you know that Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958), scientist and expert x-ray crystallographer provided images that were central to the understanding of DNA and RNA. Her work was largely unrecognized.

Her family was a wealthy Anglo-Jewish one and her father was opposed to her pursuit of a scientific career. Although the family was relatively wealthy her father insisted that they had a frugal lifestyle. The Franklin family had a tradition for philanthrophy and helped many Jewish families to escape from the Nazis. Rosalind worked, as a chercheur (post doctoral researcher) in the Laboratoire Central des Services Chemiques de l’Etat in Paris under Jacques Mering. She moved to King’s College, London, where she continued her work but was subjected to gross misogynistic behavior by James Watson, Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins.

Her x-ray crystallography of DNA led to the discovery of the DNA double helix. Watson, Crick and Wilkins omitted her from their seminal publication on the structure of DNA.

Watson, Crick and Wilkins were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962. Franklin was omitted because the Nobel Prize was only awarded to the living!!

Franklin died prematurely in 1958 of ovarian cancer.

Top 5 Rosalind Franklin Facts
Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958)

Learn more here.