Rosalind Elsie Franklin (25 July 1920 – 16 April 1958) was an English chemist and X-ray crystallographer who made crucial contributions to the understanding of the structure of DNA, RNA, viruses, coal, and graphite.
Rosalind Franklin was born in Notting Hill, London in 1920. In 1941, she graduated from the physical chemistry department at Newnham College, Cambridge. Studying X-ray diffraction in Paris, Franklin began working on DNA fibers at King's College London alongside Maurice Wilkins and Raymond Gosling in 1951. Although Franklin's fellow scientists were working on separate projects, Wilkins and Gosling were involved in the same type of research, and shared their results.
Franklin's X-ray images appeared to confirm Linus Pauling's theory that human DNA was structured in a triple-helix. This however, was because her initial DNA samples were from small traces of First Civilization DNA, which was embedded in human DNA. Franklin's discovery of triple-helix DNA was censored, and started the Templar company Abstergo Industries' research into the First Civilization.
Franklin eventually produced an X-ray diffraction image of a DNA molecule, called Photo 51. This image led to the discovery that human DNA was structured in a double-helix. On the instructions of a high-ranking Abstergo employee, the head of the Chemistry Life Foundation, Clinton B. Rosenburg, secretly passed Franklin's X-ray images on to the biologist James Watson without Franklin's permission.
Watson and his research partner Francis Crick constructed their own DNA model in their laboratory, based on Franklin's work. Giving little credit to Franklin, Crick and Watson published their results, leading the public to believe the triple-helix theory to be erroneous. Without Franklin's research, Watson and his team would not have reached their conclusions as soon. Franklin would embark on other research projects, but was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1956. Less than two years later, Franklin died of ovarian cancer, making her ineligible for the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Wilkins, Watson, and Crick won said prize in 1962.