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Database: Photo 51

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London//United Kingdom//1952


Rosalind Franklin was born in Notting Hill, London, and graduated from the physical chemistry department at Newham College in Cambridge. After studying X-ray diffraction in Paris, she began working on DNA fibers at King's College in London alongside Raymond Gosling and Maurice Wilkins in 1951. Although these scientists were working on separate projects, they were still involved in the same type of research and shared their results.

Franklin created an X-ray diffraction image of DNA which was named Photo 51 that led to the identification and discovery of DNA's double helix structure. However, her colleague Maurice Wilkins showed it to American biologist James Watson without her permission. Watson and his research partner Francis Crick then constructed their own DNA model in their lab, based on Franklin's work. They published their results without giving much credit to Franklin. Without her research, Watson and his team would not have been able to come to their conclusions so quickly.

Franklin embarked on other research projects but was diagnosed with cancer in 1956. She died less than two years later, which made her ineligible for the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, won by Watson, Wilkins, and Crick in 1962.

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