Francis Crick – Co-discoverer of the Structure of DNA

Francis Crick
Francis Harry Compton Crick
( 8 June 1916, Northampton,  Northamptonshire, England – 28 July 2004, San Diego,  California, USA) (aged 88)
Nationality: United Kingdom
Category: Scientists
Occupation: Biologists, Physics
Unique distinction: Co-Discoverer of the structure of  DNA. Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine (1962)
Gender: Male

Quotes: 1. Big questions get big answers. 2. A busy life is a wasted life. 3. An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going. 3. Chance is the only source of true novelty. 4. If you want to understand function, study structure. 5. The dangerous man is the one who has only one idea, because then he’ll fight and die for it. 6. We’ve discovered the secret of life. 7. While Occam’s razor is a useful tool in the physical sciences, it can be a very dangerous implement in biology. It is thus very rash to use simplicity and elegance as a guide in biological research.


Social and professional position: Francis Crick was a British molecular biologist, physicist, and neuroscientist.
The main contribution to (what is known): He is best known for his work with James Watson which led to the identification of the structure of DNA, and his theories of the nature of consciousness and the origin of life.
Contributions: He is most noted for being one of two co-discoverers of the  double helix structure of the DNA molecule in 1953, together with James D. Watson.  He also played a crucial role in research related to revealing the genetic code.
At Cambridge, he met an American named James Watson, and together with their colleague Maurice Wilkins, they tried to elucidate the structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).
In their investigations they based on Crick’s theories, Watson brought knowledge of phage and X-ray diffraction studies prepared by Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin and Erwin Chargaff (1950) conclusions that that DNA contains equal amounts of four nitrogenous bases – adenine, thymine, guanine and cytosine.
In 1953, these two distinct backgrounds uncovered the DNA were structured like two twisting, spiral ladders: now-famous double-helix model.
Crick and Watson first published one of their four papers about this discovery in the April 25 1953 edition of the journal Nature.
Francis Crick, James D. Watson and Maurice Wilkins were jointly awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.
After his discovery of the double helix, Crick went to work on finding the relationship between DNA and genetic coding. Crick disclose the nature of the genetic code. The code defines a mapping between tri-nucleotide sequences, called codons, and amino acids. The three nitrogen bases (triplet) coding for one amino acids.
Thus he predicted the mechanism for protein synthesis. The parent DNA molecule unzips exposing the two halves of the DNA molecule. Each half of the parent DNA molecule serves as a template, matrix for the newly generated double strands.
Thus each nitrogen bases adenine (A), thymine (T), cytosine (C), and guanine (G), matching up with their complementary strictly defined bases.
Crick is widely known for use of the term “central dogma” to summarise an idea that genetic information flow in cells is essentially one-way, from DNA to RNA to protein.
Later Crick was interested in two fundamental unsolved problems of biology.
First, how molecules make the transition from the non-living to the living, and second, how the brain makes a conscious mind.
His theories of the nature of consciousness and the origin of life have had considerable influence on all workers in those fields.
Honors and Awards: Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research (1960), Gairdner Foundation International Award (1962), Nobel Prize (1962), EMBO Membership (1964), Royal Medal (1972), Copley Medal (1975), Albert Medal (1987), OM (1991).
Major works: Structure for deoxyribose nucleic acid. – Nature. 1953., Of Molecules and Men (1966), Life Itself: Its Origin and Nature (1981), Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul (1994).


Origin: He was born and raised in Weston Favell, then a small village near the English town of Northampton in which Crick’s father Harry Crick (1887-1948 and uncle ran the family’s boot and shoe factory.
Education: He was educated at Northampton Grammar School and, after the age of 14, Mill Hill School in London (on scholarship), where he studied mathematics, physics, and chemistry with his best friend John Shilston. In  1937 at the age of 21, Crick earned a B.Sc. degree in physics from University College of London (UCL). University of Cambridge (PhD), Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn (Postdoc).
Career highlights: Work on an advanced degree at University was interrupted by service in World War II. From 1940 to 1947 he served as a scientist in the admiralty, where he designed circuitry for naval mines.
After service in World War II, in 1947 Crick became a PhD student and Honorary Fellow of Caius College and worked at the Cambridge Medical Research Council Unit on the use of X-ray crystal diffraction to determine the spatial structure of large biological molecules.
In this time CRICK  was influenced by Erwin Schrödinger’s ideas outlined in his  book “What is Life?”(1944), that he switched from physics to biology.
In 1949 Francis Crick moved to the famous Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge, where he began to study the molecular structure of proteins.
Francis Crick was 35 when he began working with fellow scientist James Watson, then a young man of 23,  to discover the makeup of DNA, the genetic code of life.
After 1976 he worked at the Salk Institute, San Diego, where he served as president from 1994 to 1995. At the Salk Institute, in collaboration with Christof Koch, he studies the neural correlates of conscious visual experience, seeking to understand how neuron firing patterns correspond to the conscious experience of seeing.
Personal life: At an early age, Francis was attracted to science and what he could learn about it from books.
For the first time Crick married the Ruth Doreen Crick, née Dodd (1913 – 2011), in 1940. They had one  son Michael Francis Compton (b. 25 November 1940),  and  they were divorced in 1947. Later he married the former Odile Crick, née Speed (1920 – 2007) in 1949. They had  two douhters: Gabrielle Anne (b. 15 July 1951) and Jacqueline Marie-Therese (later Nichols) (12 March 1954 -28 February 2011) and  and they remained married until Crick’s death in 2004.
Crick died of colon cancer on 28 July 2004 at the age of 88  at the Thornton Hospital in La Jolla, San Diego, California.
Remains: He was cremated and his ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean.
Zest: Francis Crick’s grandfather was a shoemaker and amateur scientist. His Uncle Walter also had a fascination with science, and young Francis conducted some chemical experiments with him.  The first model of the spatial structure of the DNA molecule was constructed from ping-pong balls, pieces of wire and cardboard. Crick suggested that life arrived on the earth in the form of germs such as the spores of micro-organisms from another planet. This theory, he and his colleague, L. Orgel called “Directed Panspermia”.