Focus: Francis Crick

The Crick is named after Francis Crick, one of Britain's great scientists. He is best known for his work with James Watson which led to the identification of the structure of DNA in 1953, drawing on the work of Rosalind Franklin, Maurice Wilkins, and others. 

This discovery proved to be of enormous importance to biomedical research and earned Crick, Watson and Wilkins the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962.

Like the researchers brought together from different scientific disciplines within the Crick today, Francis and James benefited from combining distinct bodies of knowledge and contrasting ways of thinking and working.

Together they set out to understand a question relevant to all our bodies: what are genes made of and how do we make accurate copies of them, generation after generation? Their approach to solving this problem underpins much of the research undertaken in the Crick today.

Francis Crick and James Watson

Francis was noted for his intelligence, openness to new ideas and collaborations with scientists working in different fields of expertise. He was a true discovery scientist. Whilst our current exhibition, Open for Discovery, touches on some of his eminent work, it provides only a snapshot of a lifetime of research. Further information about Francis can be found via:

In 1953, before Francis and James announced their important discovery in the journal Nature, Crick wrote excitedly to his 12 year old son Michael, explaining what he had found and the significance of such a break through. You can read the full letter Francis wrote to Michael below:

Letter written by Francis Crick in 1953 to his 12-year-old son Michael

Letter written by Francis Crick in 1953 to his 12-year-old son Michael

Letter written by Francis Crick in 1953 to his 12-year-old son Michael

Find out more

Upcoming public events

Exhibition 'Open for Discovery', 20 April - 28 October 2017. Free admission.

Crick Late: Discovery - Wednesday 3 May, 6pm
A packed evening of pop up activities at London's most exciting new science venue. Free admission but booking essential.

Further suggested reading


Crick, F. (1988) What Mad Pursuit? A Personal View of Scientific Discovery, Basic Books.

Watson, J. (1968) The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA, New York: Touchstone.

Cobb, M (2015) Life's Greatest Secret: The Race to Crack the Genetic Code, London: Profile Books.

Judson, H (1979) Eight Day of Creation: Makers of the Revolution in Biology, New York: Simon and Schuster.


Aicardi, C. (2015)
Francis Crick, Cross-worlds Influencer: A Narrative Model to Historicize Big Bioscience, Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 55: pp83-95.

Watson, JD and Crick, FHC. (1953)
Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid, Nature, 4356: pp737-8.

Other useful links

Nobel Prize lecture delivered by Francis Crick in 1962

Francis Crick's legacy for neuroscience (obituary)

Francis Crick biography on Wikipedia

Genetic code overview on Wikipedia

Explore the full list of Crick research topics.

Come face to face with life-changing science at the Crick. Join our mailing list to receive updates about the Crick's activities and to hear about our free public events and exhibitions. Read our full Privacy Policy.