Article ID: CBB000850403

After the Double Helix: Rosalind Franklin's Research on Tobacco mosaic virus (2008)


Rosalind Franklin is best known for her informative X-ray diffraction patterns of DNA that provided vital clues for James Watson and Francis Crick's double-stranded helical model. Her scientific career did not end when she left the DNA work at King's College, however. In 1953 Franklin moved to J. D. Bernal's crystallography laboratory at Birkbeck College, where she shifted her focus to the three-dimensional structure of viruses, obtaining diffraction patterns of Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) of unprecedented detail and clarity. During the next five years, while making significant headway on the structural determination of TMV, Franklin maintained an active correspondence with both Watson and Crick, who were also studying aspects of virus structure. Developments in TMV research during the 1950s illustrate the connections in the emerging field of molecular biology between structural studies of nucleic acids and of proteins and viruses. They also reveal how the protagonists of the race for the double helix continued to interact personally and professionally during the years when Watson and Crick's model for the double-helical structure of DNA was debated and confirmed.


Description On Franklin's work in J. D. Bernal's crystallography laboratory at Birkbeck College after 1953.

Citation URI

Similar Citations

Article Argüelles, Juan Carlos; (2007)
The Double Helix Revisited: A Paradox of Science and a Paradigm of Human Behaviour (/isis/citation/CBB000831509/)

Article Elkin, Lynne Osman; (2003)
Rosalind Franklin and the Double Helix (/isis/citation/CBB000340191/)

Article Agnes Bolinska; Joseph D. Martin; (2020)
Negotiating history: Contingency, canonicity, and case studies (/isis/citation/CBB215794755/)

Article Gibbons, Michelle G.; (2012)
Reassessing Discovery: Rosalind Franklin, Scientific Visualization, and the Structure of DNA (/isis/citation/CBB001210576/)

Book Everson, Ted; (2007)
The Gene: A Historical Perspective (/isis/citation/CBB000700846/)

Essay Review Strauss, Bernard S.; (2004)
Rosy and Jim: The Mystery of the Double Helix (/isis/citation/CBB001566358/)

Article Olby, Robert; (2003)
Why Celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Double Helix? (/isis/citation/CBB000600549/)

Article Schindler, Samuel; (2008)
Model, Theory, and Evidence in the Discovery of the DNA Structure (/isis/citation/CBB001230045/)

Article de Chadarevian, Soraya; (2003)
Relics, Replicas, and Commemorations (/isis/citation/CBB000600547/)

Article Šustar, Predrag; (2007)
Crick's Notion of Genetic Information and the “Central Dogma” of Molecular Biology (/isis/citation/CBB000831432/)

Article Kauffman, George B.; (2002)
DNA Structure: Happy 50th Birthday! (/isis/citation/CBB001252535/)

Article Chadarevian, Soraya de; (2003)
Portrait of a Discovery: Watson, Crick, and the Double Helix (/isis/citation/CBB000340622/)

Article Marco Di Mauro; Salvatore Esposito; Adele Naddeo; (2018)
When Physics Meets Biology: A Less Known Feynman (/isis/citation/CBB088100681/)

Article Morange, Michel; (2008)
Fifty Years of Central Dogma (/isis/citation/CBB001034015/)

Book Watson, James D.; (2002)
Genes, Girls, and Gamow: After the Double Helix (/isis/citation/CBB000201963/)

Article Gisler, Priska; (2009)
Collecting True Blue Blood: A Journey to the Heart of 1960s Biology (/isis/citation/CBB000932658/)

Article Morgan, Gregory J.; (2006)
Why There Was a Useful Plausible Analogy between Geodesic Domes and Spherical Viruses (/isis/citation/CBB000774682/)

Authors & Contributors
Chadarevian, Soraya de
Agnes Bolinska
Di Mauro, Marco
Naddeo, Adele
Martin, Joseph D.
Wendler, Reinhard
Endeavour: Review of the Progress of Science
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
Transversal: International Journal for the Historiography of Science
The Chemical Educator
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Greenwood Press
Alfred A. Knopf
Molecular biology
Discovery in science
Watson, James Dewey
Crick, Francis
Franklin, Rosalind
Robert S. Edgar
Wilkins, Maurice Hugh Frederick
Mendel, Gregor Johann
Time Periods
20th century, late
20th century
21st century
20th century, early
United States
Great Britain
Hughes Aircraft Company
Rutgers University
Human Genome Project

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment