James Watson – born on this day in 1928 – is a man whose work has revolutionised science and changed lives. The elucidation of the DNA double helix has been heralded as ‘the scientific discovery of the 20th century’. Almost sixty years ago, together with Francis Crick, Watson constructed a 3D model of DNA supported by X-ray crystallography data from Rosalind Franklin. A decade later in 1962, Crick and Watson were awarded a joint Nobel Prize along with Maurice Wilkins for their research on the structure of nucleic acids. Their model paved the way for a mechanism to explain how DNA replicates. And the DNA structure provided a firm basis on which to predict how our genome is read and decoded into architectural and functional protein that makes up our cells. Understanding such phenomena, which happen trillions of times in our bodies every day – is the basis of molecular medicine.
Written by Brona McVittie
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences (the new name for the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre) the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.