Franklin, Rosalind (Elsie)

Franklin, Rosalind (Elsie)

biographical name

(born July 25, 1920, London, Eng.—died April 16, 1958, London) British biologist. After graduating from the University of Cambridge, she conducted important experimental work for the coal and coke industries. She later produced the X-ray diffraction pictures that allowed James D. Watson and Francis Crick to deduce that the three-dimensional form of DNA was a double helix. In studies of the tobacco mosaic virus, she helped show that its RNA is located in its protein rather than in its central cavity and that this RNA is a single-stranded helix rather than the double helix found in the DNA of bacterial viruses and higher organisms. Her death from cancer at age 37 probably cost her a share of the 1962 Nobel Prize awarded to Watson, Crick, and Maurice Wilkins.

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