Rosalind Franklin Papers (a lesson in lab communication)

The NIH National Library of Medicine posted an extensive collection of linkurl:Rosalind Franklin's correspondence and lab notebooks;http://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/KR/ online. In addition to documenting her work on the structure of Tobacco Mosaic Virus with J.D. Bernal and some of her other important scientific contributions, several sources pertain to the linkurl:now infamous;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/15789/ years from 1951 to 1953; spent at J.T. Randall's lab in King's College.

By | February 6, 2007

The NIH National Library of Medicine posted an extensive collection of linkurl:Rosalind Franklin's correspondence and lab notebooks;http://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/KR/ online. In addition to documenting her work on the structure of Tobacco Mosaic Virus with J.D. Bernal and some of her other important scientific contributions, several sources pertain to the linkurl:now infamous;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/15789/ years from 1951 to 1953; spent at J.T. Randall's lab in King's College. It's fascinating browsing through linkurl:her meticulous notes;http://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/KR/B/B/J/G/_/krbbjg.pdf troubleshooting the isolation of DNA fibers from the sample provided by Randolf Signer. But beyond the scientific process, there's a strong lesson to be learned. Those linkurl:years at King's;http://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/KR/Views/Exhibit/narrative/dna.html are quite telling of the issues that can arise when conflict in the lab is mismanaged (something staff writer Kerry Grens linkurl:addresses quite well;http://www.the-scientist.com/2007/2/1/26/1/ in our February issue). Signer had provided the sample to Maurice Wilkins who was interested in DNA. Randall took Franklin off of the proteins she had been working on to put her crystallography expertise to use on the DNA samples. Franklin assumed the project was hers and resented intrusions on the part of Wilkins. Attempts to collaborate failed, and it seems Randall did little to mediate the conflict. Long before the structure of the double helix was published, Franklin was linkurl:itching to get out;http://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/KR/B/B/D/N/_/krbbdn.pdf of King's and join Bernal.

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