Issue Date: November 25, 2013 | Web Date: November 22, 2013
Frederick Sanger, Genomics Pioneer, Dies At 95
Frederick Sanger, a British biochemist who twice won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry and whose methods to sequence proteins and DNA strands helped spawn a genomics and biomedical revolution, died on Nov. 19. He was 95.
His death was announced by the University of Cambridge’s Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, which Sanger helped found.
Sanger won his first Nobel Prize in 1958 at age 40 for his work on protein structure, particularly that of insulin. By studying the chemical properties of insulin fragments, he was able to piece together the order of the molecule’s 51 amino acids, making insulin the first protein to be sequenced.
Then, in the late 1970s, Sanger developed a method to sequence DNA strands containing hundreds of base pairs. He won his second Nobel Prize in 1980 for his contributions to nucleic acid sequencing, becoming one of just four individuals in history to win two of the prizes. The Sanger sequencing method, later adapted for computer automation, saw heavy use in the Human Genome Project to sequence DNA.
Sanger graduated from Cambridge in 1939 with a major in biochemistry and completed his doctoral work there as well. He was named a fellow of the Royal Society in 1954, Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1963, and member of the Order of Merit in 1986.
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