Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958)

Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958)

Rosalind FranklinRosalind Franklin


The natural gift of the British scientist already showed at a very early age. She pursued her studies in chemistry and physics in Newnhamn College in Cambridge. She started her research activities in 1942, which she continued in a Paris laboratory in 1947, where she began working in x-ray diffraction. At the age of 28, she was already regarded an expert in this specific area.

She moved back to England in 1951, and in collaboration with Maurice Wilkins, continued her research on the analysis of the DNA structure. Rosalind made the best quality X-ray diffraction images of DNA samples, and her achievements substantially contributed to the discovery of the double-spiral structure of DNA.

Rosalind's X-ray diffraction images of DNA samplesRosalind's X-ray diffraction images of DNA samples

In her work, Rosalind frequently met discrimination against women, especially in England. Rosalind and her colleague, Wilkins were never on good terms, so she had to leave King's College. Following this, she began a successful collaboration with Aaron Klug, and made substantial headway in analyzing the structure of viruses. Later this area of research brought Aaron Klug a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1982.

The double-spiral structure of DNAThe double-spiral structure of DNA

The discovery of the DNA structure finally brought the Nobel Prize in Medicine to Rosalind's ex-colleague, Wilkins, James Watson, and Francis Crick in 1962. Rosalind died of ovarian cancer at a very early age of 37, and so she was not eligible for nomination to the Nobel Prize.