Profile of the Day: Rosalind Franklin

Posted July 25, 2018 by Amanda | No Comment
Profile of the Day: Rosalind Franklin

Rosalind Franklin

On this day in 1920, pioneering scientist Rosalind Franklin was born. Although her work was not recognized during her lifetime, James Watson and Francis Crick’s discovery of the chemical structure of DNA would not have been possible without Franklin’s groundbreaking research.

Franklin was born on July 25, 1920 in London, England to an influential Jewish family. Her great uncle, Herbert Samuel, was a prominent politician and served as Home Secretary in 1916. As child, Franklin had a fascination with physics and chemistry. She excelled in school and earned her Ph.D in 1945.

In 1951, she began working at King’s College London as a research associate in the biophysics unit. She used her expertise in X-ray diffraction techniques on DNA fibers and through experimentation, Franklin was able to obtain a detailed image of crystallized DNA. The image was given the nickname “Photograph 51″ and would become key to Watson and Crick’s future discovery of the double helix structure of DNA.

Sadly, Franklin died on April 16, 1958 at the age of 37 from cancer. Her death came four years before Watson, Crick and Maurice Wilkins were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of the structure of DNA. Franklin was ineligible for the award since the rules require that those awarded the prize are living persons.

Explore Rosalind Franklin’s family tree on Geni and share how you’re related!

View Rosalind Franklin’s Geni Profile


Image: U.S. National Library of Medicine

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Amanda is the Social Media Coordinator at Geni. If you need any assistance, she will be happy to help!

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