Brief Chronology

  • 1916 --Born Francis Harry Compton Crick in Northampton, England (June 8)
  • 1930 --Family moved to North London so that Francis could attend the private Mill Hill School
  • 1937 --Graduated from University College London with a degree in physics; began graduate work in liquid physics at University College London
  • 1939-47 --Scientist at the British Admiralty Research Laboratory, where he designed mines for naval warfare
  • 1940 --Married Ruth Doreen Dodd (their marriage ended in divorce in 1947)
  • 1947 --Received a Medical Research Council (MRC) fellowship to conduct research on the physical properties of cytoplasm at the Strangeways tissue culture laboratory in Cambridge, England, under Arthur Hughes
  • 1949 --Married Odile Speed (d. 2007)
  • 1949 --Transferred from the Strangeways to the MRC Unit for the Study of the Molecular Structure of Biological Systems at the Cavendish laboratory in Cambridge to investigate protein structure under Max Perutz
  • 1951 --Began collaboration with James D. Watson on the structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)
  • 1953 --Watson and Crick described their double-helical model of DNA in a two-page article in Nature (April 25)
  • 1953 --Received PhD from Gonville and Caius College of Cambridge University with a thesis on "X-Ray Diffraction: Polypeptides and Proteins"
  • 1953-54 --Spent postdoctoral year in the X-ray crystallographic laboratory of David Harker at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute
  • 1955 --Proposed a molecular structure for the protein collagen with Alexander Rich; collaborated with Watson on the structure of small viruses; circulated "On Degenerate Templates and the Adaptor Hypothesis," an unpublished paper which predicted the existence of transfer ribonucleic acid (tRNA)
  • 1956 --Collaborated with Watson on the structure of small viruses
  • 1957 --Proposed the "Sequence Hypothesis" and the "Central Dogma," path-breaking concepts about how genetic information is encoded in DNA and controls protein synthesis
  • 1959 --Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society
  • 1960 --Received the Albert and Mary Lasker Award with Watson and Maurice Wilkins
  • 1961 --Crick and Sydney Brenner demonstrated that three nucleotides, a triplet, code for each amino acid during protein synthesis
  • 1962 --Became joint head, with Brenner, of the Molecular Genetics Division (later the Division of Cell Biology) of the newly-founded MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge
  • 1962 --Crick, Watson, and Wilkins shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
  • 1966 --Allocation of all 64 triplets of the genetic code is completed, which Crick declared a "historic occasion"
  • 1966 --Published Of Molecules and Men, in which he argued against "vitalism," the belief in a metaphysical spirit which animates all life
  • 1976 --Took a sabbatical at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, to begin research in the neurobiology of the visual system
  • 1977 --Received lifetime appointment as Kieckheffer Distinguished Research Professor at the Salk Institute; resigned from the MRC
  • 1981 --Published Life Itself, a speculation on the possible extraterrestrial origins of life on earth
  • 1988 --Published What Mad Pursuit: A Personal View of Scientific Discovery
  • 1991 --Appointed to the Order of Merit by Queen Elizabeth II
  • 1994 --Published The Astonishing Hypothesis, in which he proposed that consciousness arises from the molecular interactions of nerve cells in the human brain
  • 2004 --Died of colon cancer in La Jolla, California (July 28)