Francis Crick, R.I.P.

NBC San Diego – Co-Discoverer Of DNA Structure Dies In San Diego

Francis Crick, one of the two British scientists [James Watson was an American, actually. -ed.] who cracked the code for DNA, died at a San Diego hospital after a long battle with colon cancer. The 88-year-old scientist died Wednesday night at Scripps Thornton Hospital, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. He was 88.

In 1953, Crick and his colleague, James Watson, discovered that the structure of deoxyribonucleic acid was a double helix. The revelation helped unlock the genetic code that defines every living thing and determines how traits are passed from generation to generation. Crick and Watson received the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1962 for their discovery. It eventually became the basis for San Diego’s flourishing biotechnology industry, led to genetically altered food and gave law enforcement a tool for almost ironclad identifications of suspects.

Crick joined the Salk Institute in La Jolla in 1976.

History will judge him certainly as one of the influential biologists of the 20th century, if not the most influential,” Salk President Richard Murphy told the Union-Tribune. “He set the standard for being a true scientist, just totally dedicated to understanding science and the truth about biology. A new research building dedicated to studying how DNA regulates brain activity will be named in his honor, according to Salk officials. Crick is survived by his wife, two daughters and a son.

We’re just now starting to realize the potential of Watson and Crick’s discoveries.

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James Joyner
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James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.