Google celebrates the 93rd birthday anniversary of British biophysicist and X-ray crystallographer, Rosalind Elsie Franklin with a doodle today. Have you ever wondered, on how genetic information is passed on from parents to children? Well, Franklin's contributions to biophysics helped scientists figure out how that happens.
Her work in understanding the molecular structures of DNA was critically acclaimed. Her most noted contribution was her work on the X-ray diffraction images of DNA, which led to the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA. To explain in a simple ways Cell metabolism and Genetics are all coded in the DNA.
Franklin was born on July 25, 1920 in Notting Hill, London. She was the second child of parents Ellis Arthur Franklin and Muriel Frances Waley, who at the time belonged to a influential British Jewish family.
She graduated in physical chemistry from Newnham College in Cambridge in 1941. After graduation, she went on to work at the British Coal Utilisation Research Association (BCURA) as Assistant Research Officer. Her research work here helped classify coals and accurately predict their performance for fuel purposes and in the production of wartime devices. This research also helped her gain her doctorate in physical chemistry form Cambridge University, later in 1945.
Franklin would then go on to spend 3 productive years in Paris at the Laboratoire Central des Services Chimiques de L'Etat. It was here where she learnt X-ray diffraction technique. In 1951, she would return to England as a research associate at King's College London in the Medical Research Council's (MRC) Biophysics Unit, directed by John Randall. Franklin would lead a research group concerned with DNA. Maurice Wilkins was also led a separate research group in the Biophysics Unit. There was a known friction between the two, which would eventually lead to controversy .
Franklin's X-ray images of DNA were spectacular, she was coming close in solving the DNA structure. However, Maurice's contempt towards franklin would lead him to leak the images to his friends Francis Crick and James Watson. With the help of the images, the two go on to solve the DNA structure and beat Franklin in publishing results in a article on Nature. Crick and Watson go on to win the Nobel prize in Chemistry in 1962 for their DNA study.
Franklin began to fall ill around 1956, she was suffering from ovarian cancer. At the she was conducting a research on polio virus, but this was cut short as she died on April 16, 1958, from her illness.