Franklin, Rosalind

▪ British scientist
in full  Rosalind Elsie Franklin  
born July 25, 1920, London, Eng.
died April 16, 1958, London
 British scientist who contributed to the discovery of the molecular structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), a constituent of chromosomes that serves to encode genetic information.

      Franklin studied physical chemistry at Newnham College, Cambridge, graduating in 1941. She then joined the British Coal Utilisation Research Association, where she contributed to studies that explained the absorption properties of coals. From 1947 to 1950 she worked with Jacques Méring at the State Chemical Laboratory in Paris, studying X-ray diffraction technology. That work led to her research on the structural changes caused by the formation of graphite in heated carbons—work that proved valuable for the coking industry.

      In 1951 Franklin joined the Biophysical Laboratory at King's College, London. There she applied X-ray diffraction methods to the study of DNA. She is credited with discoveries that established the density of DNA, its helical conformation, and other significant aspects.

      From 1953 to 1958 Franklin worked in the Crystallography Laboratory at Birkbeck College, London. While there she completed her work on coals and on DNA and began a project on the molecular structure of the tobacco mosaic virus. She collaborated on studies showing that the ribonucleic acid ( RNA) in that virus was embedded in its protein rather than in its central cavity and that this RNA was a single-strand helix, rather than the double helix found in the DNA of bacterial viruses and higher organisms.

Additional Reading
Anne Sayre, Rosalind Franklin and DNA (1975), is a biography.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • FRANKLIN — FRANKLIN, English family active in communal, public, and economic life. BENJAMIN WOLF FRANKLIN (1740–1785), a teacher of Hebrew, went to England from Breslau about 1763. His youngest son, ABRAHAM (1784–1854), after spending his early life in… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

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