Rosalind Franklin should be remembered as the mother of the DNA discovery


In January 1953, James Watson (father of the DNA discovery) traveled to King’s College carrying a preprint of an incorrect proposal for the DNA structure. Watson went to Rosalind Franklin’s lab with his urgent message that they should collaborate before more eminent scientists like Linus Pauling pieced together the unsolved puzzle. The unimpressed Franklin became angry when Watson suggested she did not know how to interpret her own data. Watson hastily retreated, backing into Franklin’s boss, Maurice Wilkins, who had been attracted by the commotion. Wilkins commiserated with Watson and then changed the course of DNA history with the following disclosure. Without Franklin’s permission or knowledge, Wilkins showed Watson the famous crystallographic photograph made by Franklin of the helix-shaped DNA. Watson immediately recognized the significance, and this event eventually helped him and Francis Crick to put together the correct structural model of the DNA double helix.

Rosalind Franklin was never nominated for the Nobel Prize, and died in 1958.  James Watson, Francis Crick, and Maurice Wilkins were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1962, and since the Nobel Committee does not present awards posthumously, Franklin was never properly recognized for her huge contribution to chemistry and molecular biology.


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