DNA, RNA, Chromosomes, and Genes

History of Nucleic Acids

What was the role of Maurice Wilkins in early DNA research?

Maurice Wilkins (1916–2004) was trained as a physicist and worked briefly on the Manhattan Project, but when he became disillusioned with working on the nuclear project, he turned to the field of biophysics. He worked at Kings College, London, with John Randall (1905–1984), where together they began to use X-ray crystallography to study DNA. Both Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin (1920–1958) worked in the same laboratory, but their relationship was not one of cooperation—a factor that ultimately slowed the progress of their work.

After becoming disillusioned working on the Manhattan Project, physicist Maurice Wilkins switched to biophysics and helped develop ways to study DNA using X-ray crystallography.


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