- Frederick Sanger
name = Frederick Sanger
birth_date = birth date and age|1918|08|13
Laboratory of Molecular Biology
St John's College, Cambridge
Nobel Prize in Chemistry(1958)
Nobel Prize in Chemistry(1980)
Frederick Sanger, OM, CH, CBE, FRS (born
13 August 1918) is an English biochemist and twice a Nobel laureatein chemistry. He is the fourth (and only living) person to have been awarded two Nobel Prizes.
Sanger was born in
Rendcomb, a small village in Gloucestershire, the second son of Frederick Sanger, a medical practitioner, and his wife, Cicely. He was born on August 13, 1918, and educated at Bryanston Schooland then completed his Bachelor of Arts in natural sciences from St John's College, Cambridgein 1939. Raised as a Quaker, he learned to abhor violence, and during the Second World Warhe was a conscientious objector, being allowed to continue his research for a PhD.
He originally intended to study
medicine, but became interested in biochemistrybecause some of the leading biochemists in the world were at Cambridge at the time. He completed his PhD in 1943 under A. Neuberger, on lysine metabolism and a more practical problem concerning the nitrogenof potatoes. He went on to discover the structure of proteins, most famously that of insulinprotein. He also contributed to the determination of base sequences in DNA.
Sanger determined the complete
amino acidsequence of insulinin 1955. In doing so, he proved that proteins have definite structures. He began by degrading insulin into short fragments by mixing the trypsinenzyme (that hydrolyses the peptide/amide bonds between amino acids that make up the primary structure of proteins) with an insulin solution. He then undertook a form of chromatographyon the mixture by applying a small sample of the mixture to one end of a sheet of filter paper. He passed a solventthrough the filter paper in one direction, and passed an electric currentthrough the paper in the opposite direction. Depending on their solubilityand charge, the different fragments of insulin moved to different positions on the paper, creating a distinct pattern. Sanger called these patterns “fingerprints”. Like human fingerprints, these patterns were characteristic for each protein, and reproducible. He reassembled the short fragments into longer sequences to deduce the complete structure of insulin. Sanger concluded that the protein insulin had a precise amino acid sequence. It was this achievement that earned him his first Nobel prize in Chemistryin 1958.
In 1975, he developed the
chain termination methodof DNA sequencing, also known as the "Dideoxy termination method" or the "Sanger method". [Sanger F, Nicklen S, Coulson AR., DNA sequencing with chain-terminating inhibitors, Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1977 Dec;74(12):5463-7] Two years later he used his technique to successfully sequence the genome of the Phage Φ-X174; the first fully sequenced DNA-based genome. He did this entirely by hand. This has been of key importance in such projects as the Human Genome Projectand earned him his second Nobel prize in Chemistryin 1980, together with Walter Gilbert. The only other laureates to have done so were Marie Curie, Linus Paulingand John Bardeen. He is the only person to receive both prizes in chemistry. In 1979, he was awarded the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prizefrom Columbia Universitytogether with Walter Gilbertand Paul Berg, co-winners of the 1980 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
Frederick Sanger retired in 1983. In 1992, the
Wellcome Trustand the Medical Research Council founded the Sanger Centre (now the Sanger Institute), named after him. The Sanger Institute, located near Cambridge, England, is one of the world's most important centres for genomeresearch and played a prominent role in sequencingthe human genome.
Almost his only public utterance in two decades was to put his name to a letter by other UK Nobel laureates protesting about the
Iraq war. Referring to his youthful conscientious objection, he said, "I still hate war. That is why I signed that letter". In 2007 the British Biochemical Societywas given a grant by the Wellcome Trust to catalogue and preserve the 35 laboratory notebooks in which Sanger recorded his remarkable research from 1958 to 1983. In reporting this matter, Science magazinenoted that Sanger, "the most self-effacing person you could hope to meet," now was spending his time gardening at his Cambridgeshirehome. ["A Life in Science" from the "Newsmakers" page edited by Yudhijit Bhattachjee, Science 317: 879, 2007]
Even in retirement Sanger has used his extensive knowledge of DNA to aid modern scientists and academics in their work.
Awards and honours
Doctor of Philosophy- 1943
Fellow of the Royal Society- 1954
Order of the British Empire- 1963
Order of the Companions of Honour- 1981
Order of Merit (Commonwealth)- 1986
Nobel Prize in Chemistry- 1958, 1980
* [http://www.sanger.ac.uk/ The Sanger Institute]
* [http://www.sanger.ac.uk/Info/Intro/sanger.shtml About Fred Sanger, biography from the Sanger Institute]
* [http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/chemistry/laureates/1958/ About the 1958 Nobel Prize]
* [http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/chemistry/laureates/1980/ About the 1980 Nobel Prize]
Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities1994 Award
* [http://www.vega.org.uk/series/facetoface/sanger/index.php Fred Sanger] Freeview Video Documentary by The Vega Science Trust
* [http://www.npg.org.uk/live/search/person.asp?search=ss&sText=Sanger&LinkID=mp06016 National Portrait Gallery]
* [http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/chemistry/laureates/1980/sanger-autobio.html Autobiography]
* [http://www.cumc.columbia.edu/horwitz/ The Official Site of Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize]
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