Think Science: Vote Rosalind Franklin

The Bank of England has asked the public to nominate a scientist to be the new face of Britain’s £50 note. We’ve teamed up with Ovacome, Ovarian Cancer Action and Target Ovarian Cancer to rally votes for the scientist Rosalind Franklin. Here’s why:


Rosalind Franklin was a talented scientist and expert crystallographer whose work led to the discovery of DNA.
In 1952, Franklin and her PhD student Raymond Gosling captured the famous ‘Photograph 51’ – arguably now the most famous X-ray in the world, as it revealed the double helix structure of DNA for the first time.

Without her knowledge or consent, Franklin’s colleague Maurice Wilkins showed her X-ray to competing scientists Sir Francis Crick and James Watson. Their jaws dropped as the image provided the vital clue to the structure of DNA. The pair went on to publish their discovery of DNA in Nature Magazine and were later awarded a Nobel Prize. Unlike her two male peers, Franklin was never acknowledged for her contribution to the discovery.

Rosalind Franklin died of ovarian cancer at just 37. It is said that her death disqualified her from winning a Nobel Prize too as they are only given to those who can collect them.

Having ovarian cancer at such a young age can be linked to hereditary risk, and being of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage, Franklin may have carried a BRCA gene mutation that increased her risk of ovarian cancer. It is with her early contribution to discovering DNA that we can perform genetic testing today, and BRCA positive women can significantly reduce their cancer risk through surveillance and risk-reducing surgeries.

Since Franklin’s death, there has been a growing recognition for her research into the molecular structure of coal, viruses and of course, DNA but lots of people still don’t know who she was.

To vote for Rosalind Franklin to be the new face of Britain’s £50 note, visit:
Select: A scientist
Select: Deceased
Nominate: Rosalind Franklin
Copy and paste this explanation for your nomination:
Rosalind Franklin was a talented scientist and X-ray crystallographer. She helped the world understand the molecular structure of coal, numerous viruses and DNA. She died young of ovarian cancer, missing out on a Nobel Prize.