Rosalind Franklin: How She Changed The World

Born25th of July, 1920
Died16th of April, 1958
Famous Quote“Science and everyday life cannot and should not be separated.”
Known ForDiscovering double helix of DNA
Region of WorldWest, U.K, 20th century

When it comes to untold stories of women, few have had the unknown impact of Rosalind Franklin. Dying at the young age of 37 from ovarian cancer Franklin left the world with the discovery of the double helix.

Rosalind Franklin’s largest impacts stem from the discovery of the double helix of DNA. From this all modern medicine and biology stems. From Rosalind’s work science has progressed to treating genetic diseases and offering life saving procedures.

Rosalind’s work has changed the world. The following article outlines exactly how much her discovery has impacted our modern lives.

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Without further ado, here is how Rosalind Franklin changed the world forever.

Discovery Double Helix DNA Structure

While at Kings College in London Rosalind Franklin instructed several graduate students on their research. One of these students was told to take an image of DNA through a diffraction microscope.

This image permanently altered the course of medicine and history. The reason why was because it clearly showed for the first time the physical structure of DNA. It was not a single strand as previously thought. Rather this new structure was a coiled double helix.

This impact changed everything. DNA could now be shown to hold information within its cells. This means that if scientists knew where to look they could identify potential abnormalities and work to correct them.

For the first time in history we knew how DNA stored genetic information.

This discovery led to several large impacts in the fields of medicine and biology.

Rosalind Franklin’s Impact On Modern Medicine

Rosalind Franklin’s double helix DNA model changed how medicine is administered and created. Now scientists can create new medicines to treat previously untreatable illness and disease.

This is done by targeting the double helix DNA structure. John I. Bell, professor of Medicine at the University of Oxford, states the following in regards to Rosalind Franklin’s double helix impact.

“The discovery of the double helix half a century ago has so far been slow to affect medical practice, but significant transformations are likely over the next 50 years.”

Today the world of medicine can target and treat diseases by looking at a patient’s DNA structure. Today we call this method gene therapy and it involves using genes to alter a patient’s DNA.

Without Rosalind Franklin’s discovery of the double helix DNA model this would not have been possible. Modern medicine has just now started to treat patients using the impacts of Rosalind Franklin.

Rosalind Franklin’s Impact On The Field Of Biology

Rosalind Franklin was an expert in a type of microscopic imaging called X-ray crystallography.

During the early 20th century the concept of using X-rays to image a molecule was an emerging science. Rosalind decided to apply this science to the world of DNA.

What she found astounded science and changed the structure of biology forever.

With the double helix model of DNA Rosalind Franklin began experimenting with other molecular structures. One of these experiments was on the molecular structure of plants.

This was one of the first instances of using the double helix to identify the genetic composition of plants. For Rosalind Franklin she was motivated by the molecular structure of viruses that target plants.

Right before she died from ovarian cancer at 37 Rosalind Franklin was to unveil her research on the emergent tobacco mosaic virus.

This virus targeted plants and caused molting of leaves. This directly killed crops of farmers. For Rosalind Franklin if she could identify the molecular structure of the DNA of this virus she could then work to cure it.

Since then biologists around the world have used the same approach of looking at the DNA composition of a virus to create a cure. Rosalind Franklin’s discovery of the double helix structure for DNA will continue to help scientists everywhere treat illness and disease.


There you have it; an article that goes over how Rosalind Franklin changed history forever.

She never did win a Nobel prize. Her partners went on to win them in several fields. I believe however that time will correct this error and a prize will be presented to Rosalind Franklin posthumously.

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