Clare Hall Colloquium - Professor Howard Markel

Tuesday 17 May, 7.30pm, Clare Hall Meeting Room 

Speaker: Howard Markel (George E. Wantz Distinguished Professor of the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan) 

Title: The Secret of Life - Rosalind Franklin, James Watson, Francis Crick, and the Discovery of DNA's Double Helix 

James Watson and Francis Crick’s 1953 discovery of the double helix structure of DNA is the foundation of virtually every advance in our modern understanding of genetics and molecular biology. But in truth, five towering minds were in pursuit of this advancement: Watson, Crick, Rosalind Franklin, Maurice Wilkins, and Linus Pauling. This lecture re-creates the intense intellectual journey, and fraught personal relationships, that ultimately led to a spectacular breakthrough. Rosalind Franklin—fiercely determined, relentless, and an outsider at Cambridge and the University of London in the 1950s, as the lone Jewish woman among young male scientists—emerges as a focal point. Howard Markel will present a narrative of this landmark discovery, finally giving the woman at the centre of this drama her due. 

Please note that in response to Covid, College guidelines should be followed. Windows will remain open during Colloquia.

Potential attendees should email Kevin Edwards (; numbers are restricted to around 20 people for the moment.