Francis Crick

Born 8th June, 1916 (Weston Favell, United Kingdom) - Died 28th July, 2004 (San Diego, California, United States of America)

Together with James Watson, Crick co-discovered the double-helix structure of DNA. This was accomplished with the help of earlier research by Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins.

(Photo credit: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology)

Family

Francis Crick was the eldest of two boys born and raised in a small village near Northampton, where his father and uncle ran a family boot and shoe factory. Crick developed a fascination for science and how life began at an early age. In part this was inspired by his grandfather, an amateur naturalist who corresponded with Charles Darwin and had two gastropods (snails/slug) named after him. Crick married twice, first to Ruth Dodd in 1940 with whom he had a son, and then to Odile Speed with whom he had two daughters.

Education

Crick initially attended Northampton Grammar School and then won a scholarship to Mill Hill School in London. In 1937 he went to University College, London, where he completed a physics degree and started a doctorate, but this was interrupted by World War II. In 1947 he was awarded a Medical Research Council studentship to pursue a doctorate in biophysics in Cambridge. This allowed him to join research teams first at Strangeways Research Laboratories and then the Medical Research Unit at the Cavendish Research Unit. He completed a doctorate in 1954 on the use of X-ray crystallography to study the structure of proteins.

Career

From the start of World War II to 1947 Crick was part of the British Admiralty Research Laboratory, where he participated in radar and magnetic mine development and then scientific intelligence. From 1949 to 1976 he was attached to the Cavendish Research Unit where he focused on unravelling the structure of DNA. In 1976 Crick moved to the Salk Institute in San Diego where he turned his attention to studies of the brain and consciousness, focusing on the interaction between neurons and various chemical processes in the body.

Achievements

Crick is most well known for his collaboration with Jim Watson, also based at the Cavendish, which determined the three-dimensional structure of DNA to be a double helix. Published in 1953, this work paved the way to new understandings of how genetic material is stored and copied allowing for new ways of looking and manipulating biological processes. Awarded a Nobel Prize for this work in 1962, along with Watson and Maurice Wilkins, Crick also made fundamental contributions to unlocking the genetic code of DNA and providing a framework for understanding how genetic information travels in cells.

Francis Crick: timeline of key events

Crick shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1962 for 'discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material.'1916-06-08T00:00:00+0000The molecular biologists James Watson, American-born, and Francis Crick, British born, publish in Nature the molecular structure model of DNA: a double helix in which A always pairs with T, and C always with G. This model is inspired by Photo 51 taken by Franklin. Calculations from the photograph provided crucial parameters for the size of the helix and its structure, all of which were critical for the Watson and Crick's molecular modelling work. The final model represents a correction of an earlier model in the light of comments by Franklin the hydrophilic backbones should not go at the centre of the molecule, as Watson and Crick had originally assumed, but go on the outside of the molecule where they could interact with water. 1953-04-01T00:00:00+0000Francis Crick proposes that information in the DNA is translated into proteins through RNA and theories that three bases in the DNA always specify one amino acid in a protein. 1957-09-01T00:00:00+0000Experiment conducted by Sydney Brenner, Francois Jacob and Matt Meselson1961-03-31T00:00:00+00001962-10-18T00:00:00+0000Crick shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1962 for 'discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material.'2004-07-28T00:00:00+0000
Date Event People Places
8 Jun 1916Francis H C Crick was born in Northampton, United KingdomCrickLaboratory of Molecular Biology
April 1953DNA double-helix structure announcedCrick, WatsonCavendish Laboratory
September 1957RNA proposed intermediary between DNA and proteinsCrickCavendish Laboratory
31 Mar 1961Experiments reveal a type of RNA (messenger RNA) transports genetic information from the nucleus to the protein-making machinery in a cellBrenner, Crick, Jacob 
18 Oct 1962Watson, Crick and Wilkins won the Nobel Prize for Medicine for their work in determining the structure of DNAWatson, Crick, WilkinsLaboratory of Molecular Biology
28 Jul 2004Francis H C Crick diedCrickLaboratory of Molecular Biology

8 Jun 1916

Francis H C Crick was born in Northampton, United Kingdom

Apr 1953

DNA double-helix structure announced

Sep 1957

RNA proposed intermediary between DNA and proteins

31 Mar 1961

Experiments reveal a type of RNA (messenger RNA) transports genetic information from the nucleus to the protein-making machinery in a cell

18 Oct 1962

Watson, Crick and Wilkins won the Nobel Prize for Medicine for their work in determining the structure of DNA

28 Jul 2004

Francis H C Crick died