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Wellcome Trust buys Crick's archives

DOI: 10.1186/gb-spotlight-20011217-01

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The aim is to make as much as possible of this national scientific treasure available online to those who want an insight into Crick, his work and the process by which he and Watson arrived at their landmark findings on DNA. Crick has been described as one of the outstanding British scientific figures of the last century and his DNA work, in the words of the Wellcome Trust, is "widely recognized as one of the defining and enabling moments in the history of human achievement".Although DNA was first discovered in 1869, it was Crick and Watson's description of its double-helix structure that paved the way for the eventual sequencing of the entire human genome. In 1962, Crick and Watson - along with physician Maurice Wilkins - received the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for their work. So it is with some degree of satisfaction that, on 6 December 2001, the Wellcome Trust (a UK based charitable foundation that aims to advance biomedical research) announced it had succeeded in securing Crick's papers using a grant of £904,000 given by the Heritage Lottery Fund - a body that uses National Lottery money to fund projects deemed vital for the protection of national heritage. Together with another £904,000 of its own money, the Trust has the financial wherewithal to ensure the archive - currently residing with Crick in California - is not lost to the nation.But why is it so important to preserve the papers and, 50 years on, can Crick's work on DNA offer any new insights that might progress today's research? Until the files arrive, the Wellcome Trust said that it's hard to know exactly what they contain. But it's known that Crick has kept records of correspondence, laboratory notebooks and manuscripts for published articles and books. These cover the breakthrough period in the early 1950s when the DNA structure was discovered, together with all Crick's subsequent work in molecular biology and neuroscience. The Trust has proposed the Crick archive - in financial terms it


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