the scientists: Crick
Francis Harry Compton Crick was born on 8 June 1916 in Northampton,
UK. Crick was educated at Northampton Grammar School and Mill Hill
School, London. He studied physics at University
College London obtaining a BSc in 1937 before starting
research for a PhD but this was interrupted by the outbreak of war.
In 1939 he worked as a scientist for the British Admiralty, and
left in 1947 to study biology.
Supported by a studentship from the Medical Research Council
and with some financial help from his family, Crick went to Cambridge
and worked at the Strangeways Research Laboratory.
In 1949 he joined the Medical Research Council Unit headed by Max
Perutz. He became a research student for the second time
in 1950, as a member of Caius College, Cambridge,
and obtained a PhD in 1954 on a thesis entitled ‘X-ray diffraction:
polypeptides and proteins’.
During the academic year 1953-54. Crick was on leave of absence
at the Protein Structure Project of the Brooklyn
Polytechnic in Brooklyn, New York. He has also lectured at Harvard,
as a Visiting Professor and has visited other laboratories in the
In 1947 Crick knew no biology and practically no organic chemistry
or crystallography, so that much of the next few years was spent
learning the elements of these subjects. During this period, together
with W Cochran and V Vand, he worked out the general theory of X-ray
diffraction by a helix, and at the same time as Linus Pauling
and Robert Corey, suggested that the alpha-keratin pattern was due
to alpha-helices coiled round each other.
A critical influence in Crick's career was his friendship, beginning
in 1951, with James Watson, then a young man of
23, leading in 1953 to the proposal of the double-helical
structure for DNA and the replication scheme.
Crick and Watson subsequently suggested a general theory for the
structure of small viruses.
Crick. in collaboration with Alex Rich, has proposed structures
for polyglycine II and collagen and (with Alex Rich, D R Davies,
and James Watson) a structure for polyadenylic acid.
Later, in collaboration with Sydney Brenner, Crick concentrated
more on biochemistry and genetics leading to ideas about protein
synthesis (the ‘adaptor hypothesis’), and the
Crick was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1959.
In 1976 Crick joined the Salk Institute in California, where his
attention shifted to the way the brain functions. His studies has
focused on the role of neurons and the interactions between them
in consciousness. His ideas were summarized in his 1994 book 'The
Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul.'
image: © The Nobel Foundation