Maurice Wilkins CBE FRS
(1916-2004)

Died aged c. 88

Maurice Hugh Frederick Wilkins CBE FRS (15 December 1916 – 5 October 2004) was a New Zealand-born British physicist and molecular biologist, and Nobel Laureate whose research contributed to the scientific understanding of phosphorescence, isotope separation, optical microscopy and X-ray diffraction, and to the development of radar. He is best known for his work at King's College London on the structure of DNA which falls into two distinct phases. The first was in 1948–50 where his initial studies produced the first clear X-ray images of DNA which he presented at a conference in Naples in 1951 attended by James Watson. During the second phase of work (1951–52) he produced clear "B form" "X" shaped images from squid sperm which he sent to James Watson and Francis Crick causing Watson to write "Wilkins... has obtained extremely excellent X-ray diffraction photographs" [of DNA]. In 1953, Wilkins' colleague Rosalind Franklin instructed Raymond Gosling to hand over a high quality image of "B" form DNA (Photo 51), which she had made in 1952 but had “put it aside”, to Wilkins as she was leaving King's College London. Wilkins imprudently showed it to Watson. This image, along with the knowledge that Linus Pauling had proposed an incorrect structure of DNA, “mobilised” Watson and Crick to restart model building. With additional information from research reports of Wilkins and Franklin (obtained via Max Perutz), Watson and Crick correctly described the double-helix structure of DNA in 1953. Wilkins continued to test, verify and make significant corrections to the Watson-Crick model and to study the structure of RNA. Wilkins, Crick and Watson were awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, "for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material."

DbPedia
Wikidata Wikipedia

Commemorated on 1 plaque

John Yugin on Wikimedia Commons

R. E. Franklin R. G. Gosling H. R. Wilson M. H. F. Wilkins A. R. Stokes King's College London DNA X-ray diffraction studies 1953

King's College London, Strand, WC2R 2LS, London, United Kingdom where they was