06 August 2007

Sanger's papers to be held at the Wellcome Library

Frederick Sanger is one of just four people to have won two Nobel Prizes . The others are Marie Curie – Physics in 1903 and Chemistry in 1911; Linus Pauling - Chemistry 1954 and Peace in 1962; John Bardeen – Physics 1956 and 1972. Sanger won his first prize in 1958 for his work on protein structures, in particular the structure of insulin. His second award in 1980 (shared with Americans Paul Berg and Walter Gilbert) for work on DNA sequencing.

Sanger is one of Britain’s greatest scientists so it is pleasing to see that his notebooks used by have been saved for the nation. The Wellcome Trust is taking possession of the note books which give crucial insights into his thinking as he carried out work that transformed medical science. The DNA techniques of Sanger are now used by gene sequencers throughout the world. If his books were sold on the open market, they would be worth millions.

'Sanger was the father of genome sequencing,' said Clare Matterson of the Wellcome Trust. 'With his notebooks, we now have a clear record of his influences and thought processes. It would have been tragic if these notebooks had ended up outside Britain.' After collating the entries of the notebooks, the organisation will make them available for study to the public at the Wellcome Library in London. 'This will give insight into the thinking of one of our greatest scientists,' added Matterson.

Whereas other double Nobel prize winners like Marie Curie are rightly venerated, Sanger is virtually unknown in the United Kingdom This is in no small part due to his intense modesty. He is summed up by the biographer Georgina Ferry as 'Small, self-effacing and modest in the extreme, Sanger had determination, perseverance and the scientific equivalent of green fingers for developing new lab techniques and getting them to work. He was the kind of scientist who thinks with his hands.'


Anonymous said...

Yeah, but can he make his tongue touch his nose?
Catherine, the redhead

jams o donnell said...

I daresay his notebooks will cast light on this! Welcome to the Poor Mouth Catherine