Frederick Sanger

"Just a chap who messed about in a lab; academically not brilliant", said Frederick Sanger of himself.

That was a humble self-portrait by a brilliant scientist.

This British biochemist’s discoveries about the chemistry of life opened doors to new era in medicine.

This was especially so in the field of genetic engineering.

From help decoding human genome to developing new drugs like human growth hormone earned him two Nobel Prizes in Chemistry.

Thus, he raised the field of genetics from a science of descriptive analysis to today’s genetic manipulation and gene therapy.

Born on August 13, 1918 in a small village in Gloucestershire, England, he took B.A. degree in natural sciences from St. John's College, Cambridge in 1939. 

Since 1940, Sanger had carried out research in the Department of Biochemistry at Cambridge.

In 1943, he obtained a Ph. D degree on the metabolism of the amino acid lysine. 

The first to reveal the structure of a protein, he spent 10 years studying the composition of insulin.

This led to the discovery of the exact sequence of amino acids, earning him Nobel Prize.

Sanger then focused on figuring out the precise composition of the entire genome of any organism.

He declined the offer of a knighthood as he did not wish to be addressed as ‘Sir’.

He died in sleep at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge on November 19, 2013 aged 95.