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Molecular Miracle
06 April 2012

Molecular Miracle

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

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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