Feeds

DNA codebreaker Francis Crick dies at 88

Adieu to Nobel prize winner

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The next step in data security

Francis Crick, described by some as the father of genetic science, has died after a long battle with colon cancer. He was 88.

Crick, along with James Watson and Maurice Wilkins, first revealed the famous double-helix structure of the DNA molecule. Key to their discovery were the X-ray photographs of the molecule taken by Dr. Rosalind Franklin, a colleague of Wilkins' at King's College London.

Crick continued his investigation of the molecule, working with Sydney Brenner to discover how the information contained in DNA is used to create proteins. This work laid the foundations for the whole of the biotech industry: without it, DNA fingerprinting and genetic screening would be mere science fiction.

In 1962, Crick, Watson and Wilkins were awarded the Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine "for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material".

Crick began his scientific endeavours at University College London, where he studied for a Physics degree, graduating in 1937. His postgraduate studies were interrupted by WWII. During the war, he joined the British Admiralty Research Laboratories where he designed acoustic and magnetic mines. During the war, his Lab at UCL was blown up by a land mine, so he stayed on with Admiralty research.

His interest in molecular and neurobiology prompted a change in direction, several years later.

In 1947, he joined the Strangeways Laboratory in Cambridge where he began researching cytoplasm in fibroblast cells. Two years later he transferred to Cambridge's Cavendish laboratory where Max Perutz was investigating the 3D structure of proteins using X-ray crystallography.

James Watson, who joined the lab in 1951 later wrote of Crick: "I have never seen Francis Crick in a modest mood. He talked louder and faster than anyone else, and when he laughed, his location within the Cavendish was obvious."

In 1976, Crick left Cambridge for the Salk Institute where he began working in neurobiology. He was particularly interested in finding a physical link to consciousness. He attributed his scientific interests to a loss of his faith, when he was 12. He said that the things that interested him were the things it seemed science had no explanation for. He continued this work until his death.

"Francis Crick will be remembered as one of the most brilliant and influential scientists of all time," Richard Murphy, president of the Salk Institute told The Associated Press.

He married twice: first in 1940 and again in 1949. His marriage to Ruth Dodd was dissolved in 1947, but not before they had a son. He had two daughters with his second wife, Odile Speed. ®

Related stories

Police to retain DNA records of cleared suspects
Excel ate my DNA
Medical imaging research awarded £4.5m

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SCREW YOU, Russia! NASA lobs $6.8bn at Boeing AND SpaceX to run space station taxis
Musk charging nearly half as much as Boeing for crew trips
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
India's MOM Mars mission makes final course correction
Mangalyaan probe will feel the burn of orbital insertion on September 24th
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.