Francis Crick

Francis Crick bigraphy, stories - British molecular biologist, biophysicist, neuroscientist; co-discoverer of the structure of DNA

Francis Crick : biography

8 June 1916 – 28 July 2004

Francis Harry Compton Crick, OM, FRS (8 June 1916 – 28 July 2004) was an English molecular biologist, biophysicist, and neuroscientist, and most noted for being a co-discoverer of the structure of the DNA molecule in 1953 together with James D. Watson. He, Watson, and Maurice Wilkins were jointly awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine "for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material".. Nobel Prize Site for Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1962.

Crick was an important theoretical molecular biologist and played a crucial role in research related to revealing the genetic code. He is widely known for use of the term "central dogma" to summarize an idea that genetic information flow in cells is essentially one-way, from DNA to RNA to protein.

During the remainder of his career, he held the post of J.W. Kieckhefer Distinguished Research Professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California. His later research centered on theoretical neurobiology and attempts to advance the scientific study of human consciousness. He remained in this post until his death; "he was editing a manuscript on his death bed, a scientist until the bitter end" according to Christof Koch.

Directed panspermia

During the 1960s, Crick became concerned with the origins of the genetic code. In 1966, Crick took the place of Leslie Orgel at a meeting where Orgel was to talk about the origin of life. Crick speculated about possible stages by which an initially simple code with a few amino acid types might have evolved into the more complex code used by existing organisms. At that time, everyone thought of proteins as the only kind of enzymes and ribozymes had not yet been found. Many molecular biologists were puzzled by the problem of the origin of a protein replicating system that is as complex as that which exists in organisms currently inhabiting Earth. In the early 1970s, Crick and Orgel further speculated about the possibility that the production of living systems from molecules may have been a very rare event in the universe, but once it had developed it could be spread by intelligent life forms using space travel technology, a process they called "directed panspermia". by Francis Crick and Leslie E Orgel in Icarus (1973) Volume 19 pages 341–346. Crick later wrote a book about directed panspermia: In a retrospective article, Crick and Orgel noted that they had been overly pessimistic about the chances of abiogenesis on Earth when they had assumed that some kind of self-replicating protein system was the molecular origin of life.

In 1976 Crick addressed the origin of protein synthesis in a paper with Sydney Brenner, Aaron Klug, and George Pieczenik. In this paper, based on Pieczenik’s work, they speculate that code constraints on nucleotide sequences allow protein synthesis without the need for a ribosome. It, however, requires a five base binding between the mRNA and tRNA with a flip of the anti-codon creating a triplet coding, even though it is a five-base physical interaction. Thomas H. Jukes pointed out that the code constraints on the mRNA sequence required for this translation mechanism is still preserved.

Books referring to Crick

  • John Bankston, Francis Crick and James D. Watson; Francis Crick and James Watson: Pioneers in DNA Research (Mitchell Lane Publishers, Inc., 2002) ISBN 1-58415-122-6.
  • Bill Bryson; A Short History of Nearly Everything (Broadway Books, 2003) ISBN 0-7679-0817-1.
  • Soraya De Chadarevian; Designs For Life: Molecular Biology After World War II, CUP 2002, 444 pp; ISBN 0-521-57078-6.
  • Roderick Braithwaite. ""’Strikingly Alive’, The History of the Mill Hill School Foundation 1807-2007; published Phillimore & Co. ISBN 978-1-86077-330-3
  • Edwin Chargaff; Heraclitean Fire, Rockefeller Press, 1978.
  • S. Chomet (Ed.), "D.N.A. Genesis of a Discovery", 1994, Newman- Hemisphere Press, London
  • Dickerson, Richard E.; "Present at the Flood: How Structural Molecular Biology Came About", Sinauer, 2005; ISBN 0-87893-168-6.
  • Edward Edelson, "Francis Crick And James Watson: And the Building Blocks of Life"’ Oxford University Press, 2000, ISBN 0-19-513971-2.
  • John Finch; ‘A Nobel Fellow On Every Floor’, Medical Research Council 2008, 381 pp, ISBN 978-1-84046-940-0.
  • Hager, Thomas; "Force of Nature: The Life of Linus Pauling", Simon & Schuster 1995; ISBN 0-684-80909-5
  • Graeme Hunter; Light Is A Messenger, the life and science of William Lawrence Bragg (Oxford University Press, 2004) ISBN 0-19-852921-X.
  • Horace Freeland Judson, The Eighth Day of Creation. Makers of the Revolution in Biology; Penguin Books 1995, first published by Jonathan Cape, 1977; ISBN 0-14-017800-7.
  • Errol C. Friedberg; "Sydney Brenner: A Biography", pub. CSHL Press October 2010, ISBN 0-87969-947-7.
  • Torsten Krude (Ed.); DNA Changing Science and Society (ISBN 0-521-82378-1) CUP 2003. (The Darwin Lectures for 2003, including one by Sir Aaron Klug on Rosalind Franklin’s involvement in the determination of the structure of DNA).
  • Brenda Maddox Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA, 2002. ISBN 0-00-655211-0.
  • Robert Olby; The Path to The Double Helix: Discovery of DNA; first published in October 1974 by MacMillan, with foreword by Francis Crick; ISBN 0-486-68117-3; revised in 1994, with a 9-page postscript.
  • Robert Olby; Oxford National Dictionary article: ‘Crick, Francis Harry Compton (1916–2004)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, January 2008.
  • Robert Olby; "Francis Crick: Hunter of Life’s Secrets", Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, ISBN 978-0-87969-798-3, published on 25 August 2009.
  • Matt Ridley; Francis Crick: Discoverer of the Genetic Code (Eminent Lives) first published in June 2006 in the US and then in the UK September 2006, by HarperCollins Publishers; 192 pp, ISBN 0-06-082333-X.
  • Anne Sayre. 1975. Rosalind Franklin and DNA. New York: W.W. Norton and Company. ISBN 0-393-32044-8.
  • James D. Watson; The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA, Atheneum, 1980, ISBN 0-689-70602-2 (first published in 1968) is a very readable firsthand account of the research by Crick and Watson. The book also formed the basis of the award winning television dramatization Life Story by BBC Horizon (also broadcast as Race for the Double Helix).
  • James D. Watson; The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA; The Norton Critical Edition, which was published in 1980, edited by Gunther S. Stent: ISBN 0-393-01245-X.
  • James D. Watson; "Avoid boring people and other lessons from a life in science" New York: Random House. ISBN 978-0-375-41284-4, 366pp.
  • Maurice Wilkins; The Third Man of the Double Helix: The Autobiography of Maurice Wilkins ISBN 0-19-860665-6.