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Francis Crick dies

DOI: 10.1186/gb-spotlight-20040730-01

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"If all you think of with Francis Crick is the double helix, then you don't know the man," Crick's Cambridge contemporary and Nobel prize winner Aaron Klug told us. Although Crick did perform many of the intellectual somersaults that revealed DNA's double helix - work for which he shared the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine - that was only one of the world-changing discoveries that littered his career, according to Klug. While many of his achievements are now so established that they are the stuff of the school curriculum, in their time each was the pinnacle of scientific achievement.Born on June 8, 1916 in Northampton, UK, Francis Harry Compton Crick in 1937 got a degree in physics at University College London, before spending World War II devising ways of sweeping German magnetic mines for the British Admiralty, and designing circuits for British magnetic and acoustic mines. During the war he also married Ruth Dodd, and the couple had a son, Michael.Around the time that the war ended, so too did his marriage. In 1947 he married Odile Speed, and the couple had two daughters, Gabrielle and Jacqueline. 1947 also marked a significant change in his working life, as Crick moved to Strangeways Laboratory, Cambridge, where he studied the physical properties of cytoplasm in cultured fibroblast cells, a task he found intellectually limiting."He always knew who to go and talk to about problems," recalled Cambridge physiologist Horace Barlow. "He sought me out because he knew that I was interested in neuroscience. He was already working on a problem in cell biology, but he didn't think it was very important - all he wanted to do was get that finished with. He wondered whether to go into neurosciences."After much thought, Crick headed for what is now called molecular biology. "He took his choice - and he was obviously right. He could have persuaded me to go into molecular biology, but I was such a bad chemist," Barlow said. So, in 1949 Crick joined the Medical Resear


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