At King’s College London, Rosalind Franklin obtained images of DNA using X-ray crystallography, an idea first broached by Maurice Wilkins.Franklin’s images allowed James Watson and Francis Crick to create their famous two-strand, or double-helix, model. 1928), Crick (1916–2004), and Wilkins (1916–2004) jointly received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their 1953 determination of the structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).Meanwhile, in 1951, 23-year-old James Watson, a Chicago-born American, arrived at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge.
Before her untimely death from cancer she made important contributions to the X-ray crystallographic analysis of the structure of the tobacco mosaic virus, a landmark in the field.
By the end of her life she had become friends with Francis Crick and his wife and had moved her laboratory to Cambridge, where she undertook dangerous work on the poliovirus.
Under the leadership of William Lawrence Bragg, Max Perutz was investigating hemoglobin and John Kendrew was studying myoglobin, a protein in muscle tissue that stores oxygen.
(Perutz and Kendrew received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work in the same year that the prize was awarded to the DNA researchers—1962.) Working under Perutz was Francis Crick, who had earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from University College London and had helped develop radar and magnetic mines during World War II.
Watson went to Denmark for postdoctoral work, to continue studying viruses and to remedy his relative ignorance of chemistry.