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Franklin H. Portugal

Franklin H. Portugal served on the scientific staff of the National Institutes of Health and was a professor at the University of Maryland University College. He is currently Clinical Associate Professor of Biology and Director of the M.S. in Biotechnology Program at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. His 1979 book, A Century of DNA (MIT Press), coauthored with Jack S. Cohen, remains in print today. He worked in Nirenberg’s lab from 1967 to 1968.

Titles by This Author

Marshall Nirenberg and the Discovery of the Genetic Code

The genetic code is the Rosetta Stone by which we interpret the 3.3 billion letters of human DNA, the alphabet of life, and the discovery of the code has had an immeasurable impact on science and society. In 1968, Marshall Nirenberg, an unassuming government scientist working at the National Institutes of Health, shared the Nobel Prize for cracking the genetic code. He was the least likely man to make such an earth-shaking discovery, and yet he had gotten there before such members of the scientific elite as James Watson and Francis Crick.

A History of the Discovery of the Structure and Function of the Genetic Substance

Why did it take more than a century of research before scientists properly understood what DNA was and what it did within the cell? A Century of DNA aims to answer this question, tracing the history of DNA research across interrelated subjects, including embryology, biophysics, organic chemistry, histology, physiological chemistry, and genetics. The chapters follow a chronological sequence in the development of ideas on DNA, and incorporate biographical material on researchers involved in these discoveries.