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Crick Cambridge college commemoration

29 April 2013
Appeared in BioNews 702

A memorial to Francis Crick has been unveiled at his former college at the University of Cambridge to mark the 60th anniversary of the publication of the structure of DNA.

A tribute relief in the archway of the Great Gate at Gonville and Caius was unveiled by Crick's former colleagues James Watson and Sydney Brenner to commemorate his life and work.

Crick and Watson described the double helix structure of DNA in a 1953 edition of Nature and their research paved the way to understanding and 'cracking' the genetic code. Along with Maurice Wilkins, they were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962 for their discovery.

'It was one of the most important papers ever published and we sort of knew that when it came out', Watson said at the unveiling of the memorial.

Professor Sir Alan Fersht, master of Caius College, said: 'It's roughly equivalent to the theory of relativity, discovering the laws of gravity and it's the keystone of modern biology'.

Crick went on to work alongside Brenner working out the sequences of DNA bases that correspond to the amino acids used to make protein. Now retired, Watson went on to lead the US division of the Human Genome Project from 1988 to 1992 that eventually drafted the first complete human genome in 2000.

Crick's ground-breaking research provided the fundamental platform that paved new ways of thinking about genetic diagnosis, treatments, and genetic screening as well as opening up new areas in genetics such as cloning and genetic modification. Watson said Crick was the 'brightest person I ever interacted with'.

The event was sponsored by the Federation of European Biochemical Societies (FEBS) and the Agouron Institute, and included a series of lectures given by colleagues and historians of science.

A seven-page letter written by Crick to his son describing the idea of the double helix structure and genetic replication recently sold at auction for $6 million, with the Nobel prize medal attracting over $2 million at another (reported in BioNews 700). Large donations from the proceeds were made to the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California, USA and the new Francis Crick Institute in London.

DNA pioneer Francis Crick honoured with Cambridge memorial
BBC News |  25 April 2013
Francis Crick Memorial events (press release)
Cambridge University |  23 April 2013
Lasting tribute for Cambridge DNA pioneer
ITV News |  25 April 2013
15 April 2013 - by Dr Shanya Sivakumaran 
The Nobel prize won by Francis Crick, a British scientist, for his part in the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA, and a handwritten letter recounting this discovery to his 12-year-old son, have been sold for over $8 million this week....
2 August 2004 - by Juliet Tizzard 
The recent death of Francis Crick, who, with James Watson, discovered the structure of DNA, has prompted a wave of adoring comment from obituary writers, news journalists and fellow scientists alike. And rightly so. As our news story on his death describes, Crick contributed not just to the discovery of...
30 July 2004 - by BioNews 
He has been described as 'the Charles Darwin of the 20th century' by Professor Steve Jones of University College London and as 'the dominant hero of the heroic age of molecular biology' by Professor Richard Dawkins of Oxford University. He was a Nobel prize winner, a Fellow of the Royal...
10 December 2001 - by BioNews 
The entire scientific archive of Francis Crick - one of the two British men who discovered the double-helical structure of DNA - is to be displayed in London. The Wellcome Trust has bought the archive, which includes letters, research papers and laboratory notebooks, for £1.8 million. Francis Crick was negotiating with a...
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