The Double Helix
James Watson and Francis Crick did not discover DNA, the primary molecule of inheritance. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) was first identified by Swiss chemist Friedrich Miescher in 1869. Although scientist began to realize DNA importance in transmitting genetic information, it took nearly a century to discover its structure.
In 1953, Watson and Crick, working in the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge University, published their landmark article on the double-helical structure of DNA. Aided significantly by X-rays taken by Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins at Kings College, the Watson-Crick structure is formed by complementary strands connected by hydrogen bonds. This shape, they noted, “suggests a possible copying mechanism for the genetic material.”