Monday, 12 May 2014

Insulin Heroine - Dorothy Hodgkin

When I opened my Chrome browser this morning, I was surprised to see a dot molecular structure (invented by GN Lewis, whom CNR Rao described as the greatest chemist of the 20th century). 


Clicking Google’s logo, I found that May 12 was the birth anniversary of Dorothy Hodgkin, “who discovered the molecular structure of insulin.” Wait a minute, I thought, Fred Sanger discovered the structure of insulin – I wrote a memoriam blog about him, when he passed away last year. “She was awarded the Nobel prize for discovering the structure of Vitamin B-12,” Wikipedia continued. Wow, not quite GN Lewis, not Haber or Bosch or Parsons or Mahavira or Lynn Margulis, but an accomplished woman scientist: and I had never heard of her. Live and learn, I thought.

How is her contribution different from Sanger’s, I wondered. This essay on Wellcome’swebsite explained : Sanger discovered the amino-acid sequence of insulin, Hodgkin the molecular structure. I urge you to read the article – the early experiments on dogs and insulin is an eye opener.

Well done, Google. Weller done, Dorothy. And thanks, on behalf of my father, who lived several decades longer, because of your discoveries.

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