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Last Updated: Monday, 14 February, 2005, 11:01 GMT
Crick's first DNA doodle released
Francis Crick doodle, Wellcome Trust
The sketch is a first impression of the DNA double-helix
A rough sketch by Francis Crick showing his first impression of the DNA molecule has been released on the web.

The doodle, done on a scrap of A4 paper, provides the first hint of the famous double-helix structure of DNA.

The Cambridge scientist, who died in July 2004 aged 88, identified the shape of DNA with Dr James Watson in 1953.

The pencil drawing has been posted on the internet as part of a project to open the late scientist's life and work to the public.

Crick famously celebrated by going to a local pub and telling regulars that he and Dr Watson had "found the secret of life".

The breakthrough, which helped to earn the pair the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962, heralded a new era of genetic science.

A total of 350 text documents and images from Crick's personal archive, including the DNA sketch, can now be viewed on the internet or downloaded.

They include his original research papers on DNA and genetic codes, dating from 1948 to the 1980s.

The Wellcome Trust in the UK and the United States National Library of Medicine are working together to digitise the complete collection of 11,000 items.

As well as aiming to interest members of the public, it is intended to act as a guide for more in-depth research.

Crick voiced his approval for the project in 2001. He said: "The Wellcome Trust's principle of free access to information will apply to my papers.

"The world's scientists and medical historians can't all make it over to my office in the States but they will soon all have unlimited access to my archives at the Wellcome Library."

The Wellcome Trust and the Heritage Lottery Fund bought the Crick papers in 2001 when there was a danger of them going to a private US collector.

Since then they have been housed in the Wellcome Library in London. The process of digitisation ensures their longevity and makes them accessible to a much larger audience.

Helen Wakely, archivist at the Wellcome Library, said: "Crick's work began a new era of scientific progress. That we've been able to make his papers available for anyone, anywhere to view is great news for scientists and science pupils around the world.

"His groundbreaking research is now a fully accessible resource which, we're sure, will continue to inspire generations to come."

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