Frederick Sanger—always known as Fred—was one of the most influential scientists of the twentieth century. A committed molecular biologist, he spent all his academic life in Cambridge devising methods for sequencing proteins and nucleic acids. He twice won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry—once in 1958 for protein sequencing and then again in 1980 for sequencing nucleic acids. He is the only scientist to have achieved this distinction. The impact of his work was enormous. He opened up the field of protein chemistry in the 1950s, stimulating studies of the sequence, structure and function of many proteins and enzymes. In 1977 he devised an ingenious DNA sequencing method that has revolutionized molecular biology and made it possible to completely sequence the 3 × 109 nucleotides of the human genome. Moreover, he confirmed the genetic code, showed that the genetic code differed in mitochondria, and discovered overlapping genes. Fred Sanger was a modest, reserved man but to his colleagues and friends he always had vision. He was a pioneer and a leader.
- © 2015 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society