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Fred Sanger and His Legacy in DNA Testing


Fred Sanger has won two Nobel prizes for his contribution to science. And now he has donated his notebooks outlining his pioneering work on the DNA test to the nation. The books are worth millions of pounds and are of historic importance. Sanger is the only man who has two chemistry Nobel prizes. He won the Nobel prize first in 1958 and again in 1980. Now the test is commonly used in medicine, science and in the fight against crime, and the DNA test and study into genetics is vital in how we understand human life. Understanding DNA is the basic foundation of life – and is the building block for scientists to discover cures for disease and explain the idiosyncrasies of life itself.

The DNA Test – DNA’s Pioneer

The legacy of Sanger’s notebooks is being safeguarded by the Wellcome Trust. The 35 notebooks offer an insight into the scientist’s thought process while he revolutionized medical science as we know it as he worked out the DNA of a living being. Sanger is 89, his DNA techniques are used today by gene sequencers and he is considered to be the ‘father of genome sequencing’. The acquisition of the notebooks is considered a coup for Britain – they are valued in their millions, yet the historic legacy they represent is priceless. Sanger is largely regarded as the world’s greatest living scientist.

Messing About in the DNA lab

Despite being the founder of the DNA test as we know it today, Sanger’s name isn’t well known in the same way as other groundbreaking scientists such as Marie Curie. It’s thought his modesty is why his name isn’t revered in the same way – and even perhaps a comment on today’s celebrity obsessed culture that puts pop stars above science. Sanger modestly told the press: “I was just a chap who messed about in a lab,” when the announcement was made about the donation of his notebooks.

DNA Test – The Future

The number of children studying science is dropping as it is not seen as an easy or valued subject. The prolific use of the DNA test in all walks of life – from DNA paternity tests to forensic crime – shows however how vital it is science continues to thrive. The work Sanger did in unlocking DNA was groundbreaking. And the future work on DNA could help medical science move in leaps and bounds.