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BIO Accepting Nominations for its Award Honoring One Outstanding Woman in Industrial Biotech

February 27, 2015
Today, BIO announced that it has officially extended its deadline for the Rosalind Franklin Award for Leadership in Industrial Biotechnology. In its second year, the BIO Rosalind Franklin Award was created to honor an outstanding woman in the field of industrial biotechnology and bioprocessing. 

Rosalind Elsie Franklin (25 July 1920 – 16 April 1958) was a British biophysicist and X-ray crystallographer who made critical contributions to the understanding of the fine molecular structures of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), RNA (ribonucleic acid), viruses, coal and graphite. Her work in DNA achieved the most fame because DNA is the hereditary material in humans and almost all other organisms which has allowed scientists the ability to better understand how genetic information is passed from parents to children.

Rosalind Franklin’s use of X-ray diffraction images led to the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA in 1953. Her images of the double helix and measurements of a single unit were the data used by Watson and Crick to create the model for DNA, which later earned the duo a Nobel Prize in 1962.

Unfortunately, Dr. Franklin worked in a scientific field dominated by men which left little room for female scientists to be honored for their accomplishments. Her achievements did not receive the full recognition that they deserved during her lifetime. Dr. Franklin's work was published third, in the series of three DNA Nature articles, led by the paper of Watson and Crick which only hinted at her contribution to their hypothesis.

Her dedication to her work led to an early death. In the fall of 1956, Dr. Franklin was diagnosed with ovarian cancer as a result of constant exposure to X-rays. For the next 18 months she underwent surgeries and other treatments, during which she continued working in her lab and seeking funding for her research team. She died in London on April 16, 1958.

This award was created to help carry on the legacy of Rosalind Franklin who not only aided in the expansion of biotechnology but also helped pave the way for women in the field. The work of this unsung hero was a crucial contribution to one of the greatest breakthroughs in science and the cornerstone of the biotech industry.

The Rosalind Franklin Society will sponsor the 2015 BIO Rosalind Franklin Award which will be presented at the 2015 World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology to be held July 19-22, 2015 at the Palais des congrès de Montréal in Montréal, Canada.