Rosalind Elsie Franklin

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Franklin, Rosalind Elsie

Franklin, Rosalind Elsie, 1920–58, English molecular biologist and chemist, grad. Newnham College, Cambridge (1941). She spent most of the war years (1942–45) working for the British Coal Utilisation Research Association, investigating the physical chemistry of carbon and coal; her research there led to her doctorate at Cambridge (1945). After working with Jacques Méring at the State Chemical Laboratory, Paris (1947–50), where she studied X-ray diffraction technology, Franklin joined the Biophysical Laboratory, King's College, London (1951–53) and Crystallography Laboratory, Birkbeck College, London (1953–58). Her skillful studies contributed directly to the discovery of the structure and function of DNA (see nucleic acid), which won Francis Crick, James Watson, and Maurice Wilkins the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. She also led research on the structure of RNA plant viruses, most notably tobacco mosaic virus, on which she worked with Aaron Klug.


See biographies by B. Maddox (2002) and A. Sayre (rev. ed. 2009).

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