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Nobel Prize for discovering DNA to go under the hammer

February 26, 2013 15:27 IST

Sixty years after Nobel Prize winning scientist Francis Crick discovered the structure of DNA, his family is offering the coveted medal for sale at an auction in New York.

This will be the first time that a Nobel Prize medal is sold at a public auction.

Texas-based Heritage Auctions said the DNA pioneer's Nobel prize medal will go under the hammer on April 10 in New York City and is expected to attract bids starting from a whopping $250,000.

"This year marks the 60th anniversary of the historic discovery of the structure of DNA and 50 years have passed since Francis Crick was awarded the Nobel Prize," said Kindra Crick, a granddaughter of the scientist.

In 1953 Francis Crick and James D Watson published a short paper in the journal Nature with a quiet title: "Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid."

The duo changed the world with it by describing DNA, the molecule in the cells of living things that determines their genetic characteristics. They and a fellow researcher, Maurice Wilkins, won the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1962.

Sixty years later, Crick's family is offering his gold Nobel medal and diploma for sale at auction, ABC News Radio reported.

Heritage Auctions, which is organising the sale, suggested an opening bid of $250,000.

The analysis of DNA was one of the great scientific accomplishments of the last century.

The medal is cloaked in controversy as many historians and scientists say more credit ought to go to Rosalind Franklin, who did some of the measurements on which the Nature paper was based.

Crick's family said a portion of the proceeds would go to the Francis Crick Institute, scheduled to open in London in 2015.

The new facility will be used in the search for cures for some of the world's most devastating diseases, the family said.

"For most of that time, the Nobel Prize and the unique personal diploma have been locked up. By auctioning his Nobel it will finally be made available for public display and be well looked after. Our hope is that, by having it available for display, it can be an inspiration to the next generation of scientists," said Kindra.

The endorsed cheque Crick received for 85,739.88 Swedish Krona and an old lab coat he wore are also being offered.

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