Francis Crick

We've discovered the secret of life

Francis Crick was a scientist: the man who along with James Watson helped discover the structure of DNA.

Their breakthrough, achieved while Crick was still studying for his PhD in Cambridge in 1953, is regarded as one of the greatest scientific discoveries of the 20th century. The two men won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1962 as a result.

Thanks to Crick and Watson creating the famous double helix model of DNA, we now have genetic fingerprinting, screening for inherited diseases, and the entire branch of science known as biotechnology.

Francis Crick was born in Northampton, the son a shoe factory owner. Showing a keen interest in science from a young age, he was banned from childhood experiments after his antics led to the explosion of several bottles in the house. As an adult, he helped develop torpedoes for the Royal Navy during the Second World War.

After the war, his focus moved from physics towards biology, particularly the subject of DNA, an interest he shared with Jim Watson. Much of their crucial thinking was done in the pubs in and around Cambridge.
Crick, who was awarded the Order of Merit in 1991, reflected modestly on his discovery: “Rather than believe that Watson and Crick made the DNA structure, I would rather stress that the structure made Watson and Crick.”