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Francis Crick (1916-2004)

Francis Crick discovered the structure of DNA in partnership James Watson. Crick had been fascinated with science since he was a boy, and earned a degree in physics from University College London. His research to gain a PhD in physics was interrupted by the Second World War.

During the war, Crick worked for the Admiralty Research Laboratory; among other things, he contributed to the design of a new type of mine for the British Navy. After the war, like many other physicists, Crick turned to the life sciences.

In 1949 he joined the Medical Research Council Unit at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge. There he met his future collaborator James Watson. The two researchers used X-ray diffraction studies by Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins to build the double-helix model of the molecular structure of DNA. In 1962 Crick, Watson and Wilkins received the Nobel Prize in Medicine for this discovery.

Related Themes and Topics


S de Chadarevian, Designs For Life: Molecular Biology After World War II (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002)

M Ridley, Francis Crick: Discoverer of the Genetic Code (London: HarperPress, 2006)



Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). The material of all living organisms, it stores the information, or blueprints, about every cell and is located in the genes. It is made up of two strands which form a double helix and are linked with hydrogen bonds. It was first described in 1953 by Francis Crick and James Watson.