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DNA: the King's story

Refining the hypothesis

Continuing Biophysics Department researchContinuing Biophysics Department researchIn July 1953, a second article in Nature by Franklin and Gosling provided further evidence of the two-chain model of DNA but also pointed out that Watson and Crick's model lacked precision.

Between 8-9 September 1953 Acta Crystallographia published a further two articles by Franklin and Gosling explaining the significance of water content to structure.

40th anniversary poster signed by King's team40th anniversary poster signed by King's teamMaurice Wilkins, Leonard Hamilton and other King's scientists, meanwhile, took up the challenge of proving the structure correct and showing that the basic model of the molecule remains the same throughout all living creatures.

To do that they further improved remarkably upon the precision of the images and adjusted the model so that it fitted precise x-ray data.

The images taken between 1953 and 1960 were considerably clearer than the early work but they remained, on the face of it, images of dots, dashes and blotches.

The substantial work at King’s, however, allowed for pictures to be taken showing all layer lines to the 20th with minute spaces of 1.7Å observed. A further C form of DNA was also identified.

New Biophysics unit in Drury LaneNew Biophysics unit in Drury LaneOver the next several years Wilkins was joined in this work at various times by Clive Hooper, Bob Langridge, Max Feughelman, Don Marvin, Geoffrey Zubey, Mike Spencer, Watson Fuller and Struther Arnott.

Their work ensured that the correctness of the Watson-Crick double helix hypothesis was firmly established.

The Biophysics Unit meanwhile went from strength to strength, relocating from the Wheatstone laboratories on the Strand to a new site in Drury Lane in 1964 and later being renamed the Randall Institute in memory of its founding Director, who died in 1984.

The Institute is now based at New Hunt's House on the Guy's campus. Its research draws on the traditional strengths of biophysics at King's, including muscle and cell motility and structural biology using x-ray crystallography of proteins.

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