Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin worked with colleagues at the Randall Institute at King's to discover the structure of DNA in 1953. In 1950, alongside Ray Gosling, Wilkins used optical spectroscopy to obtain the first clear crystalline X-ray diffraction patterns of DNA fibers. This discovery prompted Wilkins' colleague Alec Stokes to suggest the helical structure of DNA.Continue Reading
Rosalind Franklin is best known for taking "Photo 51" that contributed to the studies of the DNA molecule. Her photo was used by Francis Crick and James Watson to develop their own model of the DNA molecule. A paper published by Cricks and Watson alongside a paper published by Wilkins, Franklin and Stokes appeared in the April 1953 issue of "Nature" that discussed their findings on the structure of DNA. The papers launched a seven-year research project by Wilkins and his colleagues to prove the hypothetical model designed by Crick and Watson.
James Watson, Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins were honored with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1962. Rosalind Franklin was not included because only three scientists can share the Nobel Peace Prize. Surprisingly, of the four researchers, only Franklin held a degree in chemistry. Wilkins held a degree in physics. Franklin died at 37 from cancer, and Wilkins went on to have a celebrated career.Learn more about Molecular Biology & DNA