Showing posts with label SOTW. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SOTW. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SOTW. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SOTW. Show all posts

Friday, March 27, 2015

Scientist of the Week 4: Francis Crick


Francis Crick born on the 8th June 1916 in Northampton, United Kingdom, graduated from UCL in 1937. During World War 2 he worked as a scientist for the Admiralty Research Laboratory, working on the design of magnetic and acoustic mines.

In 1940 Crick married Ruth Doreen Dodd. Their son, Michael F.C Crick is a scientist. They were divorced in 1947. In 1949 Crick married Odile Speed. They have two daughters, Gabrielle A. Crick and Jacqueline M.T. Crick.  The family lived in a house called the “The Golden Helix” appropriately named by Crick, and it made a good conversation topic with his friends.

In 1947 Crick made the transition from physics into biology, which he described as "almost as if one had to be born again." His early studies at Cambridge were supported by a studentship from the Medical Research Council (MRC).

In 1949 he joined the MRC Unit headed by Max Perutz, which subsequently became the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology. During this period he worked on the X-ray crystallography of proteins, obtaining his PhD in 1954.

In the beginning of 1951 a new friendship started between Crick & James Watson (who was 23 at the time). They were both fascinated by the essential query of how genetic information could be stored in molecular form, leading in 1953 to the proposal of the double-helical structure for DNA. Crick then concentrated on the biological implications of the structure of the DNA molecule, developing further insights into the genetic code − including the so called “central dogma” describing the flow of information from DNA to RNA to protein. Crick was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1959.

Crick worked at the University of Cambridge for 30 years up until 1977. For the rest of his career, Crick continued to work in the Salk Institute for biological studies, in La Jolla, California, USA, and also a professor at the University of California, San Diego.

Francis Crick was celebrated for his intelligence, openness to new ideas, and his collaborations with scientists working in different fields of expertise.

Key Research:

After gaining his studentship in the MRC, in 1949, He became a research student for the second time in 1950, as a member of Caius College, Cambridge, and obtained a PhD in 1954 on a thesis entitled ‘X-ray diffraction: polypeptides and proteins’.

During this period, Crick was studying and devised a theory of X-ray diffraction by a helix at the same time Linus Pauling and Robert Corey suggested the alpha- keratin pattern was due to alpha-helices coiled around each other.

Watson & Cricks friendship blossomed in 1951, and in the year 1953 the duo proposed the structure of the double-helical structure of DNA and a theory for its replication. Subsequently they suggested a general theory for the structure of small viruses.

Crick, in collaboration with Alex Rich, has proposed structures for polyglycine II and collagen and (with Alex Rich, D R Davies, and James Watson) a structure for polyadenylic acid.

Later, in collaboration with Sydney Brenner, Crick focused more on biochemistry and genetics leading to ideas about protein synthesis (the ‘adaptor hypothesis’), and the genetic code.

Nobel Peace Prizes:

Francis Crick was awarded one-third of The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962 along with James Watson and Maurice Wilkins. All three were co-awarded the prize for their research on the identification of the structure of DNA and nucleic acids.

“Prize motivation:"for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material"


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Friday, March 20, 2015

Scientist of the Week 3: Maud Leonora Menten

For this week’s Scientist of the Week segment, I have chosen: Maud Leonora Menten of the Michaelis-Menten equation famous for her core work in biochemistry, taught in college, used daily in biochemistry research and applications. She was amazing and relentlessly pursued her work despite many obstacles.


Maud Menten was born March 20, 1879 in Port Lambton, Ontario, Canada and studied medicine at the University of Toronto (B.A. 1904, M.B. Physiology 1907, M.D. 1911). She was among the first women in Canada to earn a medical doctorate. She completed her thesis work at University of Chicago.

Miss Menten was woman who wore “Paris hats, blue dresses with stained-glass hues, and Buster Brown shoes.” She drove a Model T Ford through the University of Pittsburgh area for some 32 years and enjoyed many adventurous and artistic hobbies.

She was an extremely motivated and a hard-worker; she continued to work all her life until she was too sick to no longer work.  Menten was so dedicated to her work so she learnt to communicate in German and was able to communicate in a total of 6 languages throughout her life including Russian, French, German, Italian, and at least one Native-American language.

Key Research / Awards:

Miss Menten headed for Germany by ship, in the same year that the Titanic had sank, despite being advised not to. She was determined to work with Leonor Michaelis- the well-known, German, biochemist.  They worked together to solve the mystery of enzyme kinetics, studying the rates and mechanisms of enzymatic reactions. Together they devised the Michaelis-Menten Equation, the famous equation that is vital till today which calculates the rate of an enzyme reaction and is taught to all biochemistry undergraduates today.

After travelling from Germany to the USA, Miss Menten continued her PhD in 1916 worked at the University of Pittsburgh (She was awarded a professorship in 1950). She then went to become a pathologist at the Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital in 1926 where she studied histochemistry and paediatric pathology.

She’s credited for having conducted the first separation of proteins by electrophoresis, and she developed a staining method using azo dyes that’s still used in histochemistry today. In 1950 Menten retired and returned to Canada where she continued to work here she continued to do cancer research at the British Columbia Medical Research Institute till 1955.

Over her entire career she wrote and co-wrote about 100 research papers, many of which are historic contributions.

Nobel Peace Prize:

She may not have won one but she definitely deserved one!

“I’ve stirred them up, so now I can go.” - Maud Leonora Menten


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