Fred Sanger, Britain’s most honoured and recognised scientist is credited with being responsible for the DNA test of today. The release of his notebook has fuelled additional interest once again in the field.
Fred Sanger is the fourth, and only living man in history to win two chemistry Nobel Prizes, the first in 1958 and the second in 1980. The public release of his notes in 2007 to the British Biochemical Society, detailing his research on the DNA test are worth millions, and the pioneering work that he did is now evident in its common use in today’s medical and scientific world. The understanding of DNA is the key to understanding human life itself, and scientists are now using his work to continue research into how DNA can cure diseases and answer some of life’s most complex questions.
The Welcome Trust now safeguards Sanger’s 35 laboratory notebooks: and while they are a prized possession for British heritage, being valued in their millions, the historic importance of these notebooks is priceless. That Sanger revolutionised modern science through his DNA research has been universally acknowledged, and today, known as the “father of genome sequencing”, the 89 year old is the world’s greatest living scientist.
A Scientist and Humble Man
In stark contrast to his pioneering work in DNA testing, Fred Sanger is not the household name one would expect him to be. In comparison to other scientific pioneers like Marie Curie, Sanger is extremely humble when talking about his work. At a recent press conference covering the release of his prized notebooks, Sanger commented, “I was just a chap who messed about in his lab”. As humble as this sounds, Science Magazine was quoted as saying that Sanger was “the most self-effacing person you could hope to meet”.
The Future for DNA Research
Today’s society relies heavily on the use of DNA tests, ranging from DNA paternity tests to forensic investigations, and the importance of continued scientific research cannot be overstated. Sanger’s work paved the way for modern DNA research and, even though retired, he continues to aid modern scientists and academics in their work.