042: The Double Helix Structure of DNA | Finding Franklin

Double Helix Structure DNA rendering

The double helix structure of DNA was the discovery of the century. However, the story about the discovery is mired in controversy as one of the major contributors, Rosalind Franklin, was conspicuously absent from acknowledgements and died (and subsequently not named) before the Nobel Prize was awarded.

In 1968, James Watson wrote the book ‘The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA’ and reads more like a fictional detective novel than an autobiographical account with the portrayal of Franklin as a forceful, gruff and confrontational. Recently, an article in Nature shows an unpublished news article from 1953 (at the time of the discovery) that Franklin’s contribution was crucial to uncovering the structure of DNA.

Today, we talk to one of the authors of the article in Nature, Nathaniel Comfort, who is Professor of the History of Medicine at John Hopkins University. Link to the article: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-023-01313-5

Our special guest is Professor Nathaniel Comfort from the John Hopkins University. His interest lies in the histories of genetics, eugenics, genomics and biomedicine. He has authored two books (The Tangled Field and The Science of Human Perfection), written for Nature, The Atlantic, The Nature as well as appeared on PBS, National Public Radio and the BBC.

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