Time to Remember: Dorothy Hodgkin (12 May 1910 - 29 July 1994)

A British biochemist, credited with discovering three-dimensional bimolecular structures through the advanced technique of x-ray crystallography. Her early successful work included confirmation of the structure of penicillin in 1946. She was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of the biologically complex structure of Vitamin B12 in 1964. X-Ray crystallography is a precise method of utilising the intense beams of x-rays and the resultant x-ray diffraction patterns of single protein crystals to determine the three-dimensional structure and shape of molecules. This technique was primarily made famous for enabling the helical structure of DNA to be discovered. Dorothy Hodgkin was one of the invitees to examine the Watson & Crick model of DNA in 1953. As X-Ray crystallography developed, the technique enabled larger and more complex molecules to be analysed and therefore opened the field of research. Coupled with Hodgkin’s palpable interest in the hormone insulin, and its important role in the regulation of blood sugar, she was finally able to determine the structure of the insulin molecule in 1969.

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