Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Farewell Frederick Sanger

Frederick Sanger passed away yesterday at the age of 95.

Especially as DNA barcoders we have to give kudos to him as he was the pioneer that developed DNA sequencing, and most of the time we refer to the classical chain-termination method of DNA sequencing as Sanger-sequencing.

His group was actually the first that produced a whole genome sequence, made up of more than 5,000 basepairs, in a virus. Sanger was the only scientist to have been awarded the Nobel prize for Chemistry twice. The first one he received in 1958 for developing techniques to work out the precise chemical structure of proteins especially the one for insulin. The second prize he received together with Walter Gilbert and Paul Berg in 1980 for developing the chain-termination method to determine the nucleotide sequence of DNA. This invention represents the beginning of modern genetics with all the genome sequencing projects and - DNA Barcoding which despite newly developed sequencing technologies still is the method of choice for any sequence library building effort, e.g. all of 2.6 Million barcode sequences on BOLD are the result of Sanger sequencing.

A great scientist left us yesterday and one of his many qualities was modesty:

I was just a chap who messed about in his lab.

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