Maurice Hugh Frederick Wilkins
Born: 15 December 1916, Pongaroa, New Zealand
Died: 5 October 2004, London, United Kingdom
Affiliation at the time of the award: London University, London, United Kingdom
Prize motivation: "for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material"
Field: genetics, molecular biology
Prize share: 1/3
During the 1930s, a number of laboratories began to use a method called x-ray crystallography to map large, biologically important molecules. Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin worked to determine the structure of the DNA molecule in the early 1950s at King's College in London. While they did not succeed in mapping the structure, their results - not least of all Franklin's x-ray diffraction images - were important in Francis Crick's and James Watson's eventual unlocking of the mystery - a long spiral with twin threads.