Tag Archives: James Watson

The discovery of the DNA double helix, or the revolution that ushered in the era of molecular biology (Nobel Prize 1962)

O. P. Matyshevska*, V. M. Danilova, S. V. Komisarenko

Palladin Institute of Biochemistry, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Kiyv;
*e-mail: matysh@yahoo.com

Received: 19 June 2020; Accepted: 13 November 2020

The 1950s were marked by groundbreaking discoveries in the research of the molecular structure of DNA. The chronology of awarding Nobel Prizes to the authors of these discoveries, did not always coincide with the chronology of announcing the results of their research. J. Watson and F. Crick published their short paper on the discovery of DNA structure, which rocked the scientific world, in Nature in 1953, but received the Nobel Prize together with M. Wilkins only 9 years later. The discovery of the DNA chemical structure is recognized as one of the greatest biological discoveries of the twentieth century. This landmark scientific breakthrough began the development of a new field of the life sciences: molecular biology.

Standing on the shoulders of giants: James Watson, Francis Crick, Maurice Wilkins, Rosalind Franklin and the birth of molecular biology

T. V. Danylova1*, S. V. Komisarenko2

1National University of Life and Environmental Sciences of Ukraine, Kyiv;
*e-mail: danilova_tv@ukr.net;
2Palladin Institute of Biochemistry, National Academy pf Sciences of Ukraine, Kyiv;
e-mail: svk@biochem.kiev.ua

Received: 14 April 2020; Accepted: 15 May 2020

In the 20th century, DNA became a magnet, attracting representatives of various sciences. Prominent researchers competed among themselves to discover the structure of DNA and to explain the mechanisms that determine our “natural fate”, i.e., our heredity. An American chemist, biochemist, chemical engineer Linus Pauling, a British physicist and molecular biologist Maurice Wilkins, a British chemist, biophysicist, and X-ray crystallographer Rosalind Franklin, an American geneticist, molecular biologist, zoologist James Watson, a British molecular biologist, biophysicist, and neuroscientist Francis Crick were among them. They searched for the scientific explanation for the enigma of life hidden in DNA. An accurate description of DNA double-helical structure belongs to James Watson and Francis Crick. However, the missing pieces of the puzzle were elaborated by Rosalind Franklin, who was not given enough credit for her dedicated scientific work. Unlike her, Francis Crick, James Watson, and Maurice Wilkins were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1962 for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material. Whatever the DNA story is, it shows that all great scientific discoveries are not made from scratch. The immense number of people have contributed to the development of science and literally every researcher stands on the shoulders of giants, while the idea itself is in the air. The discovery of the structure of DNA became a cornerstone for the new scientific paradigm – biology acquired a molecular and biochemical basis.