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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 July, 2004, 18:55 GMT 19:55 UK
Tributes pour in for DNA pioneer
Francis Crick, AP
Francis Crick co-discovered the double-helix with James Watson
Scientists have led tributes to Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the DNA double-helix, who has died aged 88.

Professor Crick won the Nobel Prize for his work on DNA's structure, which he published in 1953 with James Watson at the University of Cambridge.

"I will always remember Francis for his extraordinarily focused intelligence and for the many ways he showed me kindness and developed my self-confidence," Watson said in a statement.

"He treated me as though I were a member of his family. Being with him for two years in a small room in Cambridge was truly a privilege. I always looked forward to being with him and speaking to him, up until the moment of his death. He will be sorely missed."

Francis Crick was the Charles Darwin of the 20th century
Professor Steve Jones, UCL
Lord May of Oxford, the president of the Royal Society, commented: "Francis Crick made an enormous contribution to science and his discoveries helped to usher in a golden age of molecular biology.

"His death is a sad loss to science and our thoughts are with his family and colleagues."

Professor Robin Lovell-Badge, head of developmental genetics at the National Institute for Medical Research commented: "Crick had a superb intellect which he brought to bear on a number of very important scientific issues.

Francis Crick (left) and James Watson (right) with a model of the DNA double helix

"There was of course his contribution to solving the structure of DNA, which goes down as one of the most influential discoveries of all time.

"But he also made critical in-roads into a range of topics from understanding how the information encoded in DNA is used to build proteins, to in more recent years, the nature of consciousness. He will be sorely missed."

Professor Richard Gardner, Henry Dale research professor of the Royal Society at the University of Oxford, said: "From my contact with him at Cambridge University, I would rank Francis Crick, in my view, as one of the greatest minds of the 20th century.

"He was a theoretician rather than an experimentalist, and was an extremely perceptive person; he would get straight to the heart of a problem while everyone else was struggling around him."

Steve Jones, professor of genetics at University College London called Crick the "Charles Darwin of the 20th century."

Dr Matt Ridley, author of Genome and Nature Via Nurture said: "Francis Crick made not one but many great scientific discoveries.

"He found that genes are digital codes written on DNA molecules, he found that the code is written in three-letter words and he was instrumental in cracking the code.

"Any one of those would have got him a place in the scientific pantheon. Discovering all three places him alongside Newton, Darwin and Einstein."

The BBC's David Shukman
"The legacy of his work touches all our lives"



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