Biography 23: Frederick Sanger (1918- )

Frederick Sanger was born in Rendcombe, England. His father was a medical doctor and it was expected that Fred would also enter the medical field. As Sanger grew up, he became very interested in nature and science and when he went to Cambridge University, he made the decision not to study medicine. He felt that a career in science would give him a better chance to become a problem solver.

Sanger was a conscientious objector during the war because of his Quaker upbringing. After his B.A. in 1939, he stayed at Cambridge to do a Ph.D. with Albert Neuberger, on amino acid metabolism. After his Ph.D. in 1943, Sanger started working for A. C. Chibnall, on identifying the free amino groups in insulin. In the course of identifying the amino groups, Sanger figured out ways to order the amino acids. He was the first person to obtain a protein sequence. By doing so, Sanger proved that proteins were ordered molecules and by analogy, the genes and DNA that make these proteins should have an order or sequence as well. Sanger won his first Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1958 for his work on the structure of protein.

By 1951, Sanger was on the staff of the Medical Research Council at Cambridge University. In 1962, he moved with the Medical Research Council to the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge where Francis Crick, John Kendrew, Aaron Klug and others were all working on a DNA-related problem. Solving the problem of DNA sequencing became a natural extension of his work in protein sequencing. Sanger initially investigated ways to sequence RNA because it was smaller. Eventually, this led to techniques that were applicable to DNA and finally to the dideoxy method most commonly used in sequencing reactions today. Sanger won a second Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1980 sharing it with Walter Gilbert, for their contributions concerning the determination of base sequences in nucleic acids, and Paul Berg for his work on recombinant DNA.

Sanger retired in 1985 and spends most of his time working in his garden. He gives his wife, Margaret Joan, a lot of credit for being a supportive helpmate in the non-science part of his life. In 1992, the Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council established the Sanger Centre, a research center for furthering the knowledge of genomes. The Sanger Centre is one of the main sequencing centers of the Human Genome Sequencing Project and sequencing projects of other organisms are also underway at the Sanger Centre. By all accounts, Sanger is a true "gentle" man, extremely courteous and charming.

Frederick Sanger received two Nobel prizes (in the same category), for his work on protein sequencing and DNA sequencing.

quaker upbringing, amino acid metabolism, frederick sanger, genes and dna, aaron klug, francis crick, structure of protein, protein sequencing, dna sequencing, protein sequence, two nobel prizes, walter gilbert, amino acids, molecular biology, neuberger

  • ID: 16526
  • Source: DNALC.DNAFTB

Related Content

15160. Sequencing proteins and DNA, Frederick Sanger

Frederick Sanger talks about the differences between sequencing proteins and sequencing DNA.

  • ID: 16526
  • Type: non-journal article
  • Source: DNAi

16491. Biography 21: Sydney Brenner (1927 - )

Sydney Brenner showed that mRNA was the unstable intermediate that carried the message from DNA to the ribosomes.

  • ID: 16526
  • Type: non-journal article
  • Source: DNAFTB

16695. Video 33: Walter Gilbert, clip 2

Jacob and Monod discovered that genes control the amount of protein in a cell.

  • ID: 16526
  • Type: non-journal article
  • Source: DNAFTB

16515. Animation 23: A gene is a discrete sequence of DNA nucleotides.

Fred Sanger outlines DNA sequencing.

  • ID: 16526
  • Type: non-journal article
  • Source: DNALC.DNAFTB

16699. Video 33: Walter Gilbert, clip 6

What we know about gene regulation today.

  • ID: 16526
  • Type: non-journal article
  • Source: DNAFTB

1445. DNA

Because it contains the directions for assembling the components of the cell, DNA is often thought of as the "instruction book" for assembling life.

  • ID: 16526
  • Type: non-journal article
  • Source: G2C

16694. Video 33: Walter Gilbert, clip 1

Before Jacob and Monod, people thought the amount of protein in a cell was constant and proteins turned themselves off.

  • ID: 16526
  • Type: non-journal article
  • Source: DNAFTB

16698. Video 33: Walter Gilbert, clip 5

Jacob and Monod never identified the inhibitor, but Gilbert found it.

  • ID: 16526
  • Type: non-journal article
  • Source: DNAFTB

16697. Video 33: Walter Gilbert, clip 4

How Jacob and Monod showed the existence of the inhibitor (what Gilbert calls the repressor).

  • ID: 16526
  • Type: non-journal article
  • Source: DNAFTB

16700. Video 33: Walter Gilbert, clip 7

To explain their data, Jacob and Monod had to hypothesize the existence of mRNA.

  • ID: 16526
  • Type: non-journal article
  • Source: DNAFTB