To say that the work of a geneticist is interesting is a bit of an understatement. By studying genetics, these scientists are making incredible discoveries and finding things out about humanity that no one would have ever known otherwise. With these findings, a geneticist is able to help us map our lineage, determine important predictions about our health, and even understand our bodies better in general.
The revelations may not be as widely known by the general public as they should be, but the famous geneticist behind the advancements do get quite a bit of recognition for their work. However, those who have garnered a fair amount of fame for their efforts could always use a little more recognition.
Let’s take a look at eight famous geneticists who have found the spotlight after big scientific achievements:
1. Albrecht Kossel
Dr. Albrecht Kossel is a famous geneticist that won a Nobel Prize in 1910 due to his work in accurately describing the chemical makeup of deoxyribonucleic acids (DNA) and ribonucleic acids (RNA). These chemicals present in nucleic acids are adenine, cytosine, guanine, thymine, and uracil. These compounds have since been referred to as nucleobases, which are the key to understanding the formation of DNA and RNA. As you can imagine, this was an incredibly significant advancement in genetics.
2. James D. Watson & Francis Crick
As an effective team, Francis Crick and James D. Watson helped advance the understanding of DNA with a huge advancement in genetics. The two managed to discover the very structure of DNA, and, by extension, helped us learn even more about our genetic makeup. Naturally, this discovery managed to snag them a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962. From their work together, the two submitted a paper proposing the double helix structure of DNA that we have all more than likely seen at some point in life.
3. Barbara McClintock
This scientist was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1983 for her work that thoroughly described an ability in which DNA can move between locations within a genome. The concept that she discovered, genetic regulation, was a big find at the time, and took researchers an entire decade to replicate her discovery in bacteria. The impact was a bit ahead of it’s time, but pushed the study of genetics forward in a remarkable way.
4. David Suzuki
This well known activist and academic has firm roots in the field of genetics. Suzuki was a genetics professor at the University of British Columbia from 1963 until his retirement in 2001. However, he has been a major scientific broadcaster since the 1970s. As such, he has brought scientific understanding and inspiration to many people over the years. As you can imagine, this kind of advancement is invaluable to maintaining the steady progression of scientific studies, in the areas of genetics and beyond.
5. Roger Kornberg
Son of fellow Nobel Prize winner, Arthur Kornberg, this geneticist is notable for describing and imaging which proteins were responsible for reading DNA. Before this discovery, it was unclear which physical mechanisms were used by cells to read DNA, wherein they could then make proteins. By utilizing complex imaging techniques, Kornberg uncovered multiple steps in the process and brought great understanding to a mystery found in all living organisms.
6. Francis Collins
Boasting a full resume of titles and awards for his work in genetics, Francis Collins has worn many hats in his time as a geneticist. With each role taken, he has helped further the study of genetics in various ways. A primary achievement of his are the discoveries of disease genes, including the gene that causes cystic fibrosis.
While he is currently the director of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, or the NIH, Collins was also a leader of the Human Genome Project, as well as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute. Due to these ongoing and impressive efforts, he has been awarded the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007, and the National Medal of Science in 2008.
7. Kary B. Mullis & Michael Smith
This team won a Nobel Prize in 1993 due to their work in furthering the study of DNA. More specifically, they worked towards establishing scientific methods that would allow us to accurately study particular regions of DNA. This method is still used today in the realm of biomedical science, as it allows scientists to study specific DNA variants that will eventually determine how changes in a DNA formation will affect a protein’s function. The work that the two put forth has helped many scientists since their conclusions, and it will surely help plenty more as time goes on.
8. George M. Church
Currently a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School, as well as Director of the Center for Computational Genetics, George M. Church invented widely used concepts of molecular multiplexing and tags, homologous recombination methods, and array DNA synthesizers. As these methods are broadly-applied in many genetic studies, it’s safe to say that Church has left his mark on the world of genetics.