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Great Scientists

Frederick Sanger

1918 - 2013

Frederick Sanger

Frederick Sanger is one of three scientists to have been awarded the Nobel Prize twice, in 1958 and 1980, both times for chemistry.

He was a pioneer in the techniques for sequencing proteins, starting with insulin in the 1940s and 1950s. He moved on to peptides, RNA and finally DNA.

  • Nationality
  • English

  • Subject
  • Biology, Biochemistry

  • Fields
  • proteins, nucleic acid sequences

  • Distinctions
  • Nobel Prize for Chemistry (1958) "for his work on the structure of proteins, especially that of insulin".

    Nobel Prize for Chemistry (1980, shared with Walter Gilbert, and Paul Berg) "for their contributions concerning the determination of base sequences in nucleic acids".

  • Theories
  • Amino acid sequence of insulin: Sanger sequencing.

  • Experiments/Discoveries
  • With Alan Coulson, in 1975 they published a sequencing procedure using DNA polymerase called "Plus and Minus". DNA sequencing was accelerated to the point where the entire genome of a bacteria could be sequenced: a first for Sanger.

After he retired in 1983, the Sanger Institute was founded on the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus. the founding director was none other than John Sulston. Today the institute employs over 900 people and is one of the leading genomic research centres in the world.

Frederick Sanger was offered a knighthood, which he turned down out of modesty, and a desire 'not to be different'.