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1958: Dr Frederick Sanger

For the first of his two Nobel Prizes in Chemistry, Sanger (Cambridge University) determined the entire sequence of the 51 building blocks – called amino acids – in insulin, a protein, and showed how they are linked together. Insulin is an important natural hormone and is used in the treatment of diabetes.

Sanger’s methods could also be applied to proteins in general, and his work showed that all proteins have specific structures. His method involved separating the different fragments of the protein on filter paper and moving them with an electric current according to their electric charge. This created a distinct pattern on the paper, which Sanger called a ‘fingerprint’

Find out more about Sanger’s second Nobel Prize in 1980.