Frederick Sanger


Frederick Sanger

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Frederick Sanger
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1980

Born: 13 August 1918, Rendcombe, United Kingdom

Died: 19 November 2013, Cambridge, United Kingdom

Affiliation at the time of the award: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, United Kingdom

Prize motivation: “for their contributions concerning the determination of base sequences in nucleic acids”

Prize share: 1/4

Also awarded: The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1958


Frederick Sanger was born in the small village of Rendcomb, England. His father was a doctor. After having converted to quakerism he brought up his sons as quakers. Frederick Sanger studied and received his PhD at the University of Cambridge in 1943. He remained in Cambridge for the rest of his career. Frederick Sanger was married with three children.


An organism's genome is stored in the form of long rows of building blocks, known as nucleotides, which form DNA molecules. An organism's genome can be mapped by establishing the order of the nucleotides within the DNA molecule. In 1977, Frederick Sanger developed a method based on using small amounts of what are known as dideoxynucleotides. These can be inserted into the DNA chain, but at a certain nucleotide they stop growth of the chain so that fragments of different lengths are created. After undergoing what is known as electrophoresis, the nucleotide sequences in a DNA sample can be identified.

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