National DNA Day is today, April 25. It is a time for teachers, students, and the public to celebrate the achievements of the completion of the Human Genome Project and the discovery of the DNA double helix as well as a time to learn more about genetics and genomics.
It was on this day in 1953, that the paper, “Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid” was published by Watson and Crick. Also, included in this same issue of Nature, were accompanying articles by others including a scientist by the name of Rosalind Franklin.
The work of many has gone into the scientific advances we know today, including those discoveries and advances in genetics. Rosalind Franklin provided much of the research towards the discovery of the structure of the double helix and debates abound regarding the credit Franklin should be attributed. What is known is that once Watson saw Franklin’s x-ray crystallographic images (the famous Photo 51), he and Crick were able to solve the structure of DNA. Watson, Crick, and Wilkins were all recognized for their work in the discovery of DNA with a Nobel Prize in 1962. Unfortunately, Franklin was not included as she died of ovarian cancer in 1958 at the age of 37.
To learn more about genetics and the history of DNA through these resources:
- National DNA Day activities at https://www.genome.gov/dnaday/
- Educational resources from the National Human Genome Research Institute at https://www.genome.gov/education/
- Links to the 1953 articles regarding DNA published in Nature at http://www.nature.com/nature/dna50/archive.html
- Learn more about Rosalind Franklin at https://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/ps/retrieve/Narrative/KR/p-nid/187
- Learn the basics of genetics and the relation to health at Genetics Home Reference https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/primer