"The Structure of Viruses as Determined by X-ray Diffraction," Plant Pathology: Problems and Progress, 1908-1958, C.S. Holton, et al. (eds.), University of Wisconsin Press 1959; Introduction by W. M. Stanley

A tribute to Dr. Franklin
By W. M. Stanley

Dr. Rosalind Franklin of London, who was scheduled to present the above paper at the symposium, died on April 16, four months before the meeting took place. In a way this paper can be regarded as a memorial tribute to Dr. Franklin from the co-authors.

Dr. Franklin was born July 25, 1920, in London and received her Ph.D. degree from Cambridge University in 1945. She has the distinction during her rather short lifetime of having made great contributions to two quite different areas of research: first, in the study of coke and coal and then later on, as you well know, in studies on the structure of viral nucleoproteins. She moved to Birkbeck College at the beginning of 1953 and started her work on tobacco mosaic virus, using the techniques she had developed earlier, and made notable advances in the studs of this virus. She first verified and refined Watson's helical hypothesis for the structure of this virus and then made very important contributions having to do with the location of its nucleic acid. By using tobacco mosaic virus containing substituted mercury atoms as markers she was able to locate key points in the viral structure. She developed a scale model of the tobacco mosaic virus molecule and this eras one of the central features of the virus exhibit at the Brussels World Exposition.

Dr. Franklin's life, I think, is an example of complete devotion to scientific research. She was a woman of great intelligence and wide culture and her main interest was devoted to discovering the ever more complex and significant patterns underlying the processes of nature. In addition to this, she was essentially an international courier of good will and scientific information. She visited several active virus laboratories, including, of course, those at Cambridge and Rothamsted in England, and the laboratory at Tubingen. She was quite well at home on the continent, having worked earlier for some years in Paris. She made several trips to the Virus Laboratory in Berkeley. She discussed her work with many investigators and took materials of interest to her from all of these areas and succeeded in a way in blending certain aspects of the scientific research of these centers together into a coherent picture.

I think one of her most outstanding characteristics was her courage. It is now known that she was quite aware of the fatal nature of her last illness. Those of us who were fairly close to her knew little about it; she never spoke about it; but she continued right on to the last to work and plan as though her life were to continue. She died within a few minutes of the time that her last scientific paper was due to be read at a conference of the Faraday Society. Her death has certainly cut off a life of great promise, but she had already done work which will insure for her a notable place in the history of biological science.