1960 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award

Double helical structure of DNA

Literally scores of investigators—who, as is our custom, are likely to remain largely unsung—have performed many ingenious experiments over the years which have led to widespread recognition of the fact that DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is one of the principal elements in the metabolic processes of cells and that it plays a leading role in the transmission of inheritable characteristics. This demonstration of the biological significance of DNA has served to stimulate research directed at determining the structure of this important molecule. Here, too, many investigators have contributed significantly to "setting the stage" for the conduct of the particular research for which this citation is given.

The painstaking X-ray diffraction studies of M.H.F. Wilkins provided a most important clue which was pursued in an ingenious fashion and to a logical conclusion by Francis Crick and J.D. Watson to the end that the structure of the DNA molecule was revealed. Even though the structure described may be altered subsequently to some extent, it will nevertheless serve as a substantial contribution to a better understanding of the location of specific genetic information and of the means by which replication and mutation of genes may take place.

The research of Wilkins, Crick, and Watson has provided a firm foundation for many advances in man's fight against the ravages of disease that will surely follow this enlightened discovery.