Barbara McClintock a Model of Adamant Individually and Self

Learning from the Nobel Laureates
Presented by:
Dr. Hon-Ming Lam
Department of Biology
The Chinese University of Hong Kong
What Constitutes to a Great Scientists?
Dare to Challenge Authority
Care for Humanity
Alexander Fleming:
Sensitivity Catches Luck
• In 1928, while working on influenza virus, he
observed that a green mold (Penicillium) had
developed accidentally on a staphylococcus
culture plate and had created a bacteria-free circle
around the mold.
• The antibiotic penicillin was developed based on
this observation.
• Penicillin had saved numerous lives especially
during WWII.
• He received the Nobel Prize on Physiology or
Medicine in 1945.
Baruj Benacerraf:
Determination Drives an Entrepreneur into a Scientist
• Coming from a rich family that runs business
• When his father was serious sick, he took charge
of the family business
• When his father died, he bought a bank in USA
and continued his study in Columbia University
• In 1957, he quitted the banker job and focused
on research
• His works contributed to the understanding of
genetically determined structures on the cell
surface that regulate immunological reactions
• He received the Nobel Prize on Physiology or
Medicine in 1980
Thomas Cech:
Breaking a Scientific Dogma
• In the past, most scientists accepted the
following dogma:
DNA – RNA – Protein – Enzymatic Activities
• But the synthesis of DNA and RNA require
enzymatic activities – who came first?
• Using a protist as a study model, he showed
that RNA has catalytic activities
• Some pharmaceutical companies are thinking of
using this discovery to cure disease due to RNA
• He received the Nobel Prize on Chemistry in
Barbara McClintock
a Model of Unflagging Persistence
• Born in 1902
• National Academy of Sciences USA member in
• Elected president of the Genetics Society of
America in 1945
• First report on transposable elements (jumping
genes) in 1951
• Nobel Prize on Medicine or Physiology in 1983
James Waston and Francis Crick:
Creativity and Innovation Bring Victory
• Waston and Crick built the correct
DNA model based on data from
other scientists (X-ray diffraction by
Rosalind Franklin and base-pairing
by Erwin Chargaff)
• They published their double helix
DNA model in 1953
• They received Nobel Prize on
Medicine or Physiology in 1962
James Waston:
Ethical Controversy
• Maurice Wilkins showed James Waston a X-ray photograph
on DNA taken by Rosalind Franklin without her prior
• Many scientists believed that this X-ray was critical for the
building of the double helix DNA model; Waston and Crick
never acknowledged Franklin in their publication
• In the book “Double Helix” by Waston, he described
Franklin overbearing, aggressive, emotional, “unfeminine”,
and a negative role-model for a proper woman
• Franklin died at age 38 in 1958 and could never defend for
Pierre Curie and Marie Curie:
From Science to Humanity
• Before getting married, Pierre Curie wrote to Marie “to
spend life side by side, in the sway of our dreams: your
patriotic dream, our humanitarian dream and our
scientific dream
• To test if radium could be used in therapy, Pierre tested it
on his own skin; radiotherapy was then born; Pierre died
in 1906 due to overwork and car accident
• During the WWI, Marie used X-rays to help in surgery;
the almost blinded Marie died of leukemia in 1934
• Pierre and Marie never patented their findings to improve
their own financial situation; they wanted everyone in
need to use their inventions
Pierre Curie and Marie Curie:
From Science to Humanity
• Pierre and Marie received Nobel Prize on
Physics in 1903, for the discovery of natural
radioactive elments (such as polonim and
• In 1911, Marie received Nobel Prize on
Chemistry, for determining the atomic weight
of radium.
• Their daughter Irene Joliot-Curie and their
son-in-law Frederic Joliot-Curie received
Nobel Prize on Chemistry in 1935, for the
discovery of artificial radioactive elements
Norman Borlaug:
Science to Fight Hunger
• In 1970, the Nobel Prize Committee
awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to Dr.
Borlaug for his efforts to increase world
food production. The committee called the
Green Revolution a “technological
breakthrough which makes it possible to
abolish hunger in the developing countries
in the course of a few years”
Norman Borlaug:
Science to Stop Hunger