Rosalind Franklin, British scientist who helped discover the structure of DNA

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Rosalind Elsie Franklin (July 25, 1920, Notting Hill, London – April 16, 1958, Chelsea, London)

Rosalind Franklin, daughter of Muriel Frances Waley and banker and professor Ellis Arthur Franklin, was born on July 25, 1920 in Notting Hill, London, into a wealthy Jewish family.

Rosalind, the second of five children, showed great aptitudes and attitudes towards studies from a very young age with excellent grades in all subjects. The comfortable economic situation of the family allowed Rosalind to study in the best and most prestigious private schools in the country, such as the Norland Place School in London, the Lindores School for Girls in Sussex or the St Paul's School for girls.

Despite the reluctance of her father, who did not look favorably on a young lady studying at the University, Rosalind was accepted at Newnham College in Cambridge at the age of 18. There she trained in Natural Sciences, more specifically in chemistry, obtaining her university graduation in 1941.

In 1942, in the midst of World War II, she obtained an assistant position at the British Coal Utilization Research Association, a British organization dedicated to research on coal and its derivatives, studies that were used to manufacture gas masks. This position allowed him to study coal and various of its characteristics, such as its porosity and its ability to burn.

In 1945 she obtained the title of Doctor in Physical Chemistry with her thesis entitled The physicochemistry of solid organic colloids with special reference to carbon, moving a year later to Paris to work as a researcher at the Central Laboratory of State Chemical Services, where she became an X-ray crystallographer under her mentor Jacques Mering.

In 1951 he returned to London, entering the Biophysics Unit at King's College, where he began his research on DNA and the molecular structures of viruses. There he remained for two years and it was when he obtained an X-ray diffraction photograph of a DNA fiber, the famous "Photograph 51", which allowed the biochemist James Dewey Watson and his British collaborator Francis Crick to later reveal the helical structure of the DNA. DNA molecule.

In 1954, Rosalind herself decided to move to Birkbeck College, where she worked alongside the Irish scientist John Bernal. She did not completely abandon the study of DNA, incorporating into her projects the investigation of another nucleic acid: RNA. She was also interested in learning about the tobacco mosaic structure (TMV). These studies were published in 1955 in the journal Nature.

In 1956 her health problems began and she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer for which she had to undergo emergency surgery. Despite her delicate condition, Rosalind continued to research and publish numerous articles throughout the following year.

At the end of 1957, her disease worsened again, suffering a final relapse in March 1958. Ella Rosalind Ella died in Chelsea, London, on April 16, 1958 at the age of 37.

Due to her early death, Franklin was never able to get the recognition she owed her for her work on the structure of the DNA molecule. Crick and Watson, who presented the model in the wake of Franklin's results, received the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology in 1962.

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