DNA TimeLine

By: Faizon Jones

Oswald Avery (1920-1949)

By the 1940s, scientists understanding of the principles of inheritance had moved on considerably - genes were known to be the discrete units of heredity, as well as generating the enzymes which controlled metabolic functions. However, it wasn't until 1944 that deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) was identified as the 'transforming principle'.

Erwin Chargaff (1950-1954)

In 1944, scientist Erwin Chargaff had read Oswald Avery's scientific Paper, which identified DNA as the substance responsible for heredity. The paper had a huge impact on Chargaff and changed the future course of his career. He later recollected, “Avery gave us the first text of a new language, or rather he showed us where to look for it. I resolved to search for this text. Consequently, I decided to relinquish all that we had been working on or to bring it to a quick conclusion”.

Rosalind Franklin (1950-1954)

Rosalind Franklin was born in London in 1920 and conducted a large portion of the research which eventually led to the understanding of the structure of DNA - a major achievement at a time when only men were allowed in some universities' dining rooms. After achieving a doctorate in physical chemistry from Cambridge University in 1945, she spent three years at the Laboratoire Central des Services Chimiques de L'Etat in Paris, learning the X-Ray diffraction techniques that would make her name. Then, in 1951, she returned to London to work as a research associate in John Randall's laboratory at King's College.

James Watson and Francis Crick (1950-1954)

In 1951, James Watson visited Cambridge University and happened to meet Francis Crick. Despite an age difference of 12 years, the pair immediately hit it off and Watson remained at the university to study the structure of DNA at Cavendish Laboratory.

*Fredrick Griffith (1928)

By the early 1928s, molecular biologists had made incredible advances. They could now decipher the genetic code and spell out the sequence of amino acids in proteins. However, further developments in the field were being held back by the inability to easily read the precise nucleotide sequences of DNA.